With Gov. Spencer Cox’s signature, Utah will become the 18th state to enact some form of constitutional carry.
The legislation, known as HB60, should be on the governor’s desk by now as the Senate passed the bill last week by a vote of 22-6.
The House had already approved it back in January, 51-20.
Gov. Cox indicated that he would sign the bill. But pro-2A Utahns are waiting for the official announcement before they celebrate.
For supporters of HB60, there was no legitimate reason to vote against it as the state already permits law-abiding citizens to openly carry a statutorily unloaded* firearm.
(*Meaning, one can carry a pistol with a loaded mag without a permit but one can’t have a round in the chamber.)
“The only thing that this bill does is if you can lawfully carry … if I can lawfully carry openly, it is against the law currently for me to cover it up for the comfort and peace of mind of others. That is literally the only thing we are changing in this bill,” said Sen. Daniel Thatcher, R-West Valley city.
“Because it is attached to firearms, people are losing their minds,” he continued.
One opponent argued that “(arming) the citizenry” in these increasingly divisive times is a bad idea.
“I just don’t think this is good public policy,” said Sen. Gene Davis, D-Salt Lake City. “This isn’t the Old West of the 1820s anymore. We’re in 2021 … and I think the one thing is that we’ve seen with the proliferation of weaponry in this country, the anger of individuals has risen.”
While Davis doesn’t oppose one’s right to keep arms, he said they shouldn’t be able to “pack around (guns)” for show.
Other critics of the bill said that the focus should not be on making it easier for folks to carry, rather it should be on instituting a more rigorous training requirement for permit applicants.
Under current law, applicants must be 21 years of age (or 18 for a provisional permit), pay a $53 fee, provide a fingerprint card & photo, pass a background check, and receive a state-approved “Weapon Familiarity Certification (WFC).”
Classes for the WFC may run as long as three hours. For some lawmakers, that’s not enough training to familiarize one with a firearm to ensure he or she will become a responsible gun owner.
Sen. David Hinkins, R-Orangeville, who cosponsored HB60, dismissed this concern saying, all gun owners have “a moral obligation to get training” on their own.
Assuming Gov. Cox signs the bill, as he indicated, constitutional carry will be the law of the land starting May 5, 2021.