Concealed-carry gun bill moves forward, but Herbert threatens a veto

Mar 12 2013 - 10:59pm

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Sen. Allen Christensen, R-North Ogden, is the Senate sponsor of the measure and said the bill takes away some of the angst of people regarding someone openly carrying a firearm.
Sen. Allen Christensen, R-North Ogden, is the Senate sponsor of the measure and said the bill takes away some of the angst of people regarding someone openly carrying a firearm.

SALT LAKE CITY -- A controversial gun bill continues to make its way through the legislative process.

The Senate voted 19-6 on Tuesday to move HB 76, dealing with concealed-carry requirements in Utah, from the second to the third reading calendar.

The bill is one step from being forwarded to the desk of Gov. Gary Herbert.

Lawmakers have two days left in the session to consider a final vote on the matter.

Herbert maintains the state's gun laws are sufficient and has hinted he will veto the measure if it clears the final Senate hurdle.

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it. I don't think, at least in Utah, it's broken," Herbert said.

The bill would allow people openly carrying a firearm to cover the weapon with a coat, without being in violation of state law, if they do not have a concealed carry permit.

It also specifies the gun must not be loaded. The provisions apply only to those age 21 or older.

Senate leaders have shown some reluctance to deal with the matter.

Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, could have waived the requirement for the bill to be heard on both the second and third reading calendars -- letting one vote handle the issue -- but he did not.

One local lawmaker has suggested the bill creates a no-win scenario for legislators.

"If you vote against it, you're seen as being against the Second Amendment, and that is a pretty big curse for a Republican," Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, said of the measure.

He voted to move the bill forward.

Sen. Allen Christensen, R-North Ogden, is the Senate sponsor of the measure and said the bill takes away some of the angst of people regarding someone openly carrying a firearm.

The bill does not remove the background checks or classes needed to get a concealed weapons permit, he said, and it also does not change the right of someone to openly carry a firearm.

Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, spoke against the bill, saying he believes the state's current laws are working.

He wondered how many people have been arrested for inadvertently covering a firearm with a coat.

Sen. Karen Mayne, D-West Valley City, also spoke against the measure, saying anyone dealing with firearms needs to be properly trained in how to handle a weapon.

Sen. Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City, said the bill protects people carrying firearms on farms and ranches and described the measure as a very small step forward.

The Senate action comes on the heels of a letter delivered Monday to Herbert by Utah Parents Against Gun Violence, which calls the legislation a step backward.

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