"HB76 establishes a culture in Utah that prioritizes deadly weapons over human life. That is not the vision we have for Utah and I hope, and suspect, it is not your vision either."
Bishop John C. Wester, Catholic Diocese of Utah, in a March 15 letter to Gov. Gary Herbert
The Utah Legislature last week passed legislation erasing the state law requiring a permit and a background check to legally carry a concealed weapon, an irresponsible move that is as unsettling as it is unnecessary. Gov. Gary Herbert should waste not a moment in vetoing it.
Though HB76 passed both houses of the Legislature with veto-proof majorities, the governor should act on his previously stated belief that the legislation appears to be an attempt to fix something that isn't broken. He is right, and should not allow the possibility of a veto override to persuade him otherwise.
The legislation was passed on the flimsiest of motives. Its sponsor, Rep. John Mathis, R-Vernal, said that the current concealed-carry law is confusing to the public and, most especially, difficult for rural residents to live with. The problem, he said, is that someone on horseback who is carrying a gun openly, which is legal, would be in violation of the law if the rider donned a raincoat and covered the gun, which is technically illegal without a permit.
Mathis apparently believes that rural Utahns shouldn't have to go to the small trouble of obtaining a concealed-carry permit, which requires only that a person attend a class and pass a criminal background check. Indeed, Utah's concealed-carry law is among the most lax in the country, and easily obtainable by residents of states with stricter gun laws.
Worthy of mention, though, is that since 2010, the state has rejected 2,155 permit applications from people who have committed such crimes as rape, burglary, child sex abuse and domestic violence.
To rid the state of even this minimal standard of prudence makes little sense to people not steeped in the paranoid belief that any gun restriction violates the Second Amendment, which the U.S. Supreme Court has stressed it does not.
There are times when a governor must stand for common sense, if only symbolically, and this is clearly one of them. When the Republican Legislature sees fit to abandon reason for the sake of a narrow ideology, as is clearly the case here, a veto from our Republican governor is just as clearly an exercise in statesmanship.
We urge him to act accordingly.