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A flurry of applicants seeking Utah concealed-weapon permits due to a recent change in state law resulted in the highest number of license revocations in its history.

For the first six months of this year, the agency revoked 539 permits. For all last year, the agency revoked a total of 523 permits, according to a report issued by the Bureau of Criminal Identification.

The reason?

A law signed by Gov. Gary Herbert that took effect May 10 requiring applicants from other states seeking a Utah concealed-weapon permit to obtain one from their home state first. Previously, there was no such requirement, making Utah's concealed-weapon permit an attractive option for those in states that some view as having more stringent training requirements or that charge more for their license.

Phil Leiker, firearms investigator with the Bureau of Criminal Identification, said the crush of applicants has been largely unprecedented. And with the volume came a proportional number of revocations, which are done in cases in which a license holder shows up in the criminal database for violations ranging from domestic violence to armed robbery.

With the number of applicants — 46,468 through June compared with 66,371 for all of 2010 — Leiker said it wasn't a surprise that there would be more people who would show up on the database, resulting in more revocations.

"Before May 10, it was wide open and everyone jumped on that," Leiker said.

As of June 30, Utah listed 321,201 valid concealed-weapon permits.

The law, SB36, was sponsored by Sen. John Valentine, R-Orem, and Rep. Curt Oda, R-Clearfield.

Oda said the reason he carried the bill was related to threats from other states that they would not recognize Utah's concealed-weapon permit if the change wasn't made.

Oda said those states' concerns were all about money.

"They were losing revenue to us," Oda said. "This law takes away that argument that they're losing money."

Prior to passage of the law, a resident of Texas, for example, could get a Utah concealed-weapon permit for $65 instead of a Texas permit for $210 and still be in compliance with that state's law.

Now, however, a Texas resident — or any resident within the other 32 states that recognize Utah's concealed-weapon permit — would have to show Utah proof they possessed their home state permit first.

But when the bill was first proposed in committee during the legislative session, Utah lawmakers were paying special attention to New Mexico and Nevada — two states that had changed their laws to not recognize the Utah concealed-weapon permit.

In 2009, Nevada changed its reciprocity agreement with Utah due to an oversight, according to Julie Butler, records bureau chief of the Nevada Department of Public Safety.

Butler said that year Nevada reviewed its agreements with different states and discovered Utah's proficiency requirements were less stringent — thereby disqualifying Utah's concealed-weapon permit as a valid permit held by Nevada residents.

Nevada requires concealed-weapon permit holders fire rounds on a range, while Utah does not have a firing range requirement. Butler said unless Utah changes, Nevada will not recognize Utah's permit.

"That's where Utah fell short," she said.

New Mexico changed its reciprocity agreement with Utah last year after that state's Department of Public Safety Director John Denko said concealed-weapon instructors in his state were promising licenses if they trained in New Mexico and got the Utah license, "which entails significantly less training."

When the law was changed, Denko said the loophole sought by instructors became a matter of public safety. Like Nevada, New Mexico requires training to include live firing of the weapon by applicants.

But Oda said the training argument is a red herring.

"Having to go through 14 hours of training, including three hours at the range?" he said. "That's stupid. It's all about money."

Fees in New Mexico are $100 through the Department of Public Safety and then there are additional fees charged by instructors.

Twitter: @davemontero