Local police wouldn't be able to charge a person with disorderly conduct for openly carrying a gun in public under a bill that moved closer to final passage Wednesday.
Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, said HB49 was not being opposed by police because of an amendment under which law enforcement officers would have the right to question an armed individual.
Police organizations including the Fraternal Order of Police were split on the controversial measure. Some police believe the measure would make it harder for them to avert potentially dangerous situations. Others saw it as a gun-rights issue.
The amended version passed in the Senate 22-4, setting it up for a final Senate vote Thursday the last day of the session.
"It removes any ambiguity that may exist in current law," Bramble said.
Sen. Daniel Thatcher, R-West Valley City, said gun opponents look for loopholes to infringe upon the right to bear arms and the law is needed to clarify those rights.
"Carrying a firearm is permitted. It is currently legal under the law," Thatcher said. "The challenge is there are those who wish legal behavior was not and they will find loopholes. And their favorite one is disorderly conduct."
Senate Minority Leader Ross Romero, D-Salt Lake City, asked for the measure to be held an extra day for a final vote because some senators had left for the night and wanted to speak to the bill.