This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Utah gun lovers won't get to carry a concealed firearm without a permit, and they can thank the National Rifle Association for the demise of the bill.
The NRA had supported the so-called "permitless carry" legislation when Rep. Lee Perry proposed it early in the session.
But Gov. Gary Herbert made clear that he would veto that bill, as he had before. So Perry came out with a new measure, HB237, aimed at trying to keep guns out of the hands of perpetrators of domestic violence, and the NRA flipped hard.
The group sent email blasts to its members urging them to oppose the bill, testifying against it and, according to Sen. Curt Bramble, the Senate sponsor of the bill, threatening to campaign against anyone who supported the measure.
It was so bad that earlier this session Bramble threw the NRA lobbyist out of his office after, the Provo Republican said, the lobbyist threatened to campaign against him.
So after meeting with Herbert on Wednesday morning just hours after the House passed HB237 Perry and Bramble have agreed to kill the NRA-opposed legislation.
Maybe that's a win for the NRA, but only if you count killing the group's own top priority for the session to be a victory.
"When the NRA comes to the state of Utah," Bramble said, "and dictates what the outcome will be, what they're going to do and how they're going to do it, without regard for the position of the Legislature or the governor, that's a bit heavy-handed."
Bramble said they would work on the bill over the next year and come up with one all sides can agree to "notwithstanding wherever the NRA will be next year."
Perry said there are too many important issues in the final week of the Legislature and "with this kind of pushback, I don't know if we can honestly go ahead and push it forward and expose senators to this kind of fight in the Senate."
"This is about promoting peace and doing the right thing for our state," said Perry, who is a Utah Highway Patrol lieutenant. "I'm a member [of the NRA] and most of the people who supported this are members, so to have this kind of pushback is disappointing."
The NRA identified several issues with the bill. One is that it doesn't allow a gun owner to carry a loaded concealed weapon without a permit. Under Utah law, the weapon would have to be unloaded, meaning a bullet can be in the magazine, but not in the firing chamber.
But that is really a red herring, since HB112, the measure that the NRA supported, also did not allow the permitless carry of a loaded gun.
The real issue is the domestic violence provisions. NRA representatives testified at the committee hearing that they don't like it being a class A misdemeanor for someone to have a gun during a domestic violence incident, even if he, or she but mostly he doesn't use it during the crime.
And they objected to an attempt to prevent people convicted of domestic violence from buying a gun, which is already illegal at the federal level and is a third-degree felony at the state level. Perry's bill would have required the store to notify police if the offense takes place.
Let that sink in: The NRA officials went so hard against a bill to keep guns out of the hands of people who beat up their spouses ignoring that about a third of Utah murders are domestic violence homicides that they killed their own top legislative priority.
"It's really difficult to defend that, if not impossible," said Jeremy Roberts, a gun-rights advocate, an NRA instructor and member and co-founder of a grass-roots group known as The Buckshot Caucus. "If anybody wants to know why we don't have permit-free carry in Utah, it's because of the NRA."