Representative Lee Perry, a Highway Patrol Lieutenant, is running a conceal carry bill for the 2017 session to decriminalize gun owners from concealing their firearm. In 2013, a similar bill sponsored by Rep. Mathis passed, but was vetoed by Governor Herbert.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” the Governor remarked, trying to claim that current law does not inhibit our right to bear arms.
But doesn’t it?
While a common definition of inhibit is to hinder or restrain, another definition is making (someone) self-conscious and unable to act in a relaxed and natural way.
If I were to walk into the local convenience store with a firearm on my hip, it would probably make a few people feel uneasy and maybe even encourage a customer to call the police preemptively. Is it inhibiting my right to bear arms when I get stopped by a police officer for no reason other than following the law? I don’t want to have to worry about someone overreacting and calling the cops on me every time I go out in public with my firearm. I would feel inhibited to legally carry my firearm.
Therefore, if I wanted to conceal carry my firearm, I would have to pay for a permit to exercise my right. “Pay” and “permit” are words that should not be associated with the exercise of one’s rights.
The status quo inhibits the right to bear arms—and therefore needs to change.
Representative Brian King stated, “You can’t show me where good, law-abiding citizens who are acting in good faith are running around being prosecuted.”
Does it have to come to prosecution before your rights are being inhibited?
Another concern Rep. King expressed is the potential for easier access to firearms. Most anyone in the state of Utah can go to a gun store or on their computer and purchase a firearm. Changing the way a gun owner can legally carry will not make it any more or less easy for someone to obtain a firearm.
Some say that without the permit, police would be deprived of the ability to find out if a gun owner has had a background check. Law-abiding gun owners should not have to be additionally suspected by the police if they have not acquired a concealed carry permit. Criminals, of course, will commit crimes regardless of having a background check.
And more importantly, a criminal is going to conceal their weapon regardless of having a permit.
It is a misconception that this proposed legislation would change the permit system; gun owners will still be able to obtain a permit with the same reciprocity benefits. They would just have the freedom to conceal carry without being mandated to obtain a permit—and those choosing to open carry would not immediately become criminals when they cover their firearm to avoid causing a disruption in public places.
Other western states already have this type of law, including Idaho, Arizona, and Wyoming—a total of 11 states. Utah should become the twelfth.