We’re experiencing a case of deja vu at the legislature.**
Two years ago, former Uintah County Representative, John Mathis, proposed HB76, a bill that would allow anyone who legally owned a gun in Utah, to carry that weapon concealed. Regardless of whether or not they had a concealed carry permit.
The bill was opposed by the majority of Utahns, although a small but loud group showed up to the committee hearings sporting visible sidearms and one young man even sat through the hearing with an AR-15 rifle next to him.
Needless to say, despite overwhelming public opposition, the bill sailed through.
Fortunately, Governor Herbert saw the folly of the bill and vetoed it saying that he supports Utah’s current permitting system and could see no reason for the change.
Fast forward two years and we’re right back where we started. Mathis is no longer in the legislature but Curt Oda, the legislature’s biggest gun proponent, has brought back a nearly identical bill, HB260.
Oda claims that the reason for his bill is to calm the fears of citizens who just don’t understand guns. Currently, it is legal for you to carry a gun without a concealed carry permit, you just can’t conceal it. So, if you want to have your gun handy, you have to wear it as a sidearm or sling it over your shoulder. Oda contends that this upsets people and makes people unnecessarily anxious or worried and that the solution is to allow these people to simply conceal the weapon.
He also says that we don’t need to worry because his bill doesn’t allow those concealed weapons to be loaded.
But Oda is being misleading.
According to Utah state code, an unloaded weapon does not mean there are no bullets in the gun, it is merely a weapon that does not have a round in the chamber, in other words, it would take you two moves to fire the weapon – one to cock the gun, and one to pull the trigger, whereas a “loaded” weapon would only require pulling the trigger.
But that’s not even the most important issue with this bill–the real issue is the fact that a mere two years have passed since the public overwhelmingly asked for a veto of the first attempt at this bill. There is no reason to suspect that the public feels any different today.
Mainstream Utahns support sensible gun legislation. HB260 is not sensible gun legislation.
The legislature would be wise to remember the 2013 session and this time, refuse their support of Oda’s bill. But if not, then we all need to remind Governor Herbert so he can veto it again.
**Update: This bill has been pulled after discussions between Gov. Herbert and Rep. Oda, though Oda hints it could come back next year.