Should legal gun owners be punished merely for putting on a jacket?
That was the law until recently. Here’s why: it’s long been legal for adults in Utah to openly carry a firearm — and no permit was required.
But before now, the only way to conceal a firearm was with a government permission slip — a concealed carry permit that costs money and requires a class to learn some basics about the law.
Several years ago, the Utah Legislature tried to fix this. They passed a bill to legalize “permitless carry” — the ability for adults to conceal their firearms without this permission slip. Governor Herbert vetoed that bill, and there wasn’t enough political will in the Legislature to override the veto. The bill never saw the light of day since then (despite several attempts) because of the ongoing veto threat hanging over the issue.
But there were two people in the state legislature at the time who voted for this bill — Spencer Cox and Deidre Henderson — who are now the Governor and Lieutenant Governor, respectively. And on the campaign trail, both of them committed to signing such a bill if it were to come up again.
With that in mind, legislators eagerly passed a bill this year to do just that. House Bill 60 was sponsored by Representative Walt Brooks and passed easily, mostly along partisan lines. The bill makes it legal for adults over 21 to conceal a firearm in Utah without having to obtain a permit.
It’s important to note that the permit program isn’t going away; people can continue to obtain them, which is especially helpful for those who travel to other states that recognize and honor Utah’s permit. This can make it easier for them to move around the country and continue concealing their firearm.
But Utah now joins several other states in removing this permission slip requirement and no longer criminalizing people simply for covering up their firearm.
Many anti-gun activists opposed this new bill, claiming that it will promote gun violence and pointing to the suicide rate as a reason to maintain the status quo. But there’s no data to indicate that the permit program does anything to affect gun violence or suicide at all. These are simply scare tactics used by those who support heavy gun control measures.
HB60 has already been signed into law by Governor Cox. Moving forward, adults over the age of 21 in Utah can more fully enjoy their right of self-defense and no longer be criminalized merely for covering up their firearms.