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Despite a veto threat from Gov. Gary Herbert, the Senate passed a bill Monday that would allow anyone over the age of 21 to carry a concealed weapon without a permit.
Herbert, a gun owner and concealed-carry permit holder himself, vetoed such a bill two years ago. He argued that the change would essentially scrap the current permit system, which contains safeguards such as criminal court checks on permit holders and firearms safety courses.
He recently threated again to veto SB256. But the Senate passed it on a 21-6 vote, and sent it to the House.
Current law allows people over 18 without concealed-carry permit to carry guns in the open without a bullet in the chamber.
Sen. David Hinkins, R-Orangeville, sponsor of the bill, said if someone covers an open-carry sidearm accidentally with a coat, "you are now breaking the law."
His bill originally allowed concealed carrying only if the gun were unloaded, meaning there is no bullet in the chamber ready to fire. But he amended that out of his bill on Monday, allowing concealed carrying of a loaded weapon.
Opponents earlier said the current concealed-weapons system works and the governor was right to veto it in 2013.
"I was under the impression the Legislature had found the [permit] system to be beneficial," said Steven Gunn, a board member of the Gun Violence Prevention Center.
Jean Hill of the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City said gun owners should recognize that there are responsibilities that come with carrying a gun, and the background check and training course make that point.