This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Even Utahns without a permit could carry concealed weapons under a plan introduced Friday in the Legislature.
Rep. Curt Oda, R-Clearfield, introduced HB260, which proposes to allow anyone over age 21 to conceal and carry a gun as long as it does not have a bullet in the chamber.
Oda, a concealed-carry permit instructor, says it is designed to reduce anxiety by people who see guns being carried openly, and call the police even though the gun carrier is breaking no laws.
"This is to take away that public consternation about seeing guns," he said.
Current law allows people over 18 without concealed-carry permit to carry guns in the open without a bullet in the chamber. Those with permits may carry them concealed and loaded.
Oda said through the years police have received many calls from people worried about someone carrying a gun, and police have sometimes arrested them for disorderly conduct.
The Legislature last year banned such arrest for disorderly conduct as long as the person carrying the gun makes no threats.
Two years ago the Legislature passed a bill virtually identical to Oda's by convincing margins: 21-7 in the Senate and 51-18 in the House. But Gov. Gary Herbert, a gun owner and concealed-carry permit holder himself, vetoed it. He argued that the change would essentially scrap the current system, which contains safeguards such as daily-criminal court checks on permit holders and firearms safety courses.
Lawmakers did not vote to override the veto.
Monica Bellenger, vice president of Utah Parents Against Gun Violence, said her group opposes the measure and hopes the governor will be back for a return performance.
"I hope he vetoes it again if it passes," she said. "When people carry dangerous weapons in public, it affects everyone" and increases risk.
Oda argues that allowing widespread concealed carry will keep guns out of sight and help lower public angst.
He said conceal-carry permits will still be needed for those who want to carry with a bullet in the chamber. Also, they are needed to allow concealed carrying on public transportation, at schools, in other states that recognize Utah's permit, and to escape otherwise required background checks when buying a gun.
Oda said his bill would affect only honest, law-abiding people because "the bad guy conceals anyway. He doesn't care."
He also says Utah already allows a form of concealed carrying by people without permits. He said "at age 18 people can carry a concealed handgun in a car. We've done that for at least 3½ years now without a problem."