SALT LAKE CITY -- A controversial bill that would amend the state's concealed carry law has cleared the House.
The bill would allow a person 21 or older openly carrying a firearm to legally cover the weapon with a coat, even if they do not have a concealed carry permit.
Bill sponsor, Rep. John Mathias, R-Vernal, is running the bill in response to an incident where a man riding a horse in a rural part of the state was stopped by an officer and found in violation of the existing law because he put a coat over the firearm.
He said it is inconvenient to worry about a jacket or untucked shirt accidently covering a firearm, which puts an individual in violation of the law.
The bill was delayed on the House floor earlier in the week when several lawmakers aired concerns about provisions and how they might impact urban areas.
The bill, HB 76, was amended on the floor Friday to include language clarifying the firearm must be unloaded, before it was approved by a 51-18 vote.
The measure goes to the Senate, but could face a rocky path to possible passage.
Gov. Gary Herbert used a Thursday press conference to speak against the bill, suggesting Utah doesn't need changes to its existing gun laws.
Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, said he would hate to see the state's existing concealed carry law diminished in any way, but said he is looking forward to discussion of the bill.
Even with obstacles, Mathias sounded optimistic. "It accomplishes what I set out to do," he said of the bill.