Utah legislators took a big step toward protecting the rights of young adults in passing a bill expanding who can carry concealed firearms. The new law (.pdf) allows 18- to 20-year-olds to apply for concealed-carry permits.
The primary goal of the new law is to allow college students to carry concealed firearms on campuses. Many campuses prohibit open-carry, leaving these students without a legal way to exercise their rights.
The bill cleared the state Senate and House floors by wide margins. Only a small handful legislators voted to block the measure.
In Utah, like in many states, only adults 21 years of age and older were eligible to apply for concealed-carry permits. Under the new law, all adults can exercise their right to carry concealed.
“A group of 18- to 20-year old women brought this bill idea to Rep. Karianne Lisonbee … they wanted to be able to defend themselves,” said state Republican senator Todd Weiler, “because most colleges don’t allow open carry, any women 18- to 20-years-old in Utah cannot carry a weapon on most Utah college campuses.”
Weiler co-sponsored the legislation, House Bill 198. The bill was sponsored by Utah house republican Karianne Lisonbee.
“These kids are already allowed to carry, just not conceal carry,” Weiler said.
Opponents of the bill said that people aged 18-20 don’t have the “mental maturity” to carry concealed firearms. The bill’s supporters quickly pointed out that the same demographic has the right to open-carry, just not concealed-carry.
“They’re still kids in many ways,” said democratic representative Coral Moss. “I think it’s just beyond where we should be considering this … This is just a step too far.”
Republican representative Kim Coleman, countered, saying “A step too far is a completed rape.”
“Most recent studies with improved methodology are consistently showing that the more forcible the resistance, the lower the risk of a completed rape,” Lisonbee said. “[Concealed-carry] is a woman’s best means of resistance”
Lisbonee cited a Justice Department study that indicates that almost one-quarter of all forcible rapes occur on campus. Only an estimated 5 percent of these crimes are reported to police.
Other critics said that the bill would provide greater access to firearms for people at risk of suicide. But again, the legislation doesn’t change who can own guns, it just extends the right to carry concealed to younger gun owners.
The bill creates a new “provisional” concealed-carry permit for 18- to 20-year-olds. These permits expire when the carriers turn 21. People aged 21 and over are licensed using the existing system.
The new law does not permit young adults to carry on public school property.