Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct a source error regarding the legality of carrying a loaded firearm under House Bill 60. The new bill allows for the concealed carry of a firearm with a live round in the firing position, even without a permit.
SALT LAKE CITY — A former Northern Utah state legislator and self-described 2nd Amendment advocate says he’s concerned people may be misreading Utah’s new firearm bill.
In February, House Bill 60 was passed by the Utah Legislature and signed by Gov. Spencer Cox. Sponsored by Rep. Walt Brooks, R-St. George, the bill includes several changes to Utah’s concealed carry firearm law. Perhaps the most significant change is that, as of May 5, 2021, individuals who are 21 and older will be able to lawfully conceal a firearm in a public area without a permit, with some exceptions.
Current Utah law allows a person to “open carry” (meaning the firearm is visible) without a permit, provided that the gun is two mechanical actions from firing. So for a semi-automatic handgun, it’s legal to have a fully loaded magazine inserted, but it’s illegal to have a live round in the firing position. For a double action revolver, a person must have two empty chambers, keeping the gun two actions from firing.
That all changes when a person obtains a Utah Concealed Firearm Permit. The permit allows a person to not only conceal their weapon, but also keep a live round in the firing position, which essentially means the gun will fire with no other action than squeezing the trigger once. The minimum age for a Utah CFP is 21, but provisional permits are also allowed for people as young as 18. According to the Utah Department of Public Safety, the provisional permit differs from the regular CFP in that it expires on the holder’s 21st birthday and does not allow the holder to carry in primary and secondary schools.
Curt Oda, a Clearfield resident who served as a Republican member of the Utah House of Representatives from 2005 through January 2017, said he’s heard chatter about the bill that gives him pause. Oda teaches a concealed carry course to provide information to Utahns on how to carry firearms legally and responsibly. In those circles, he said, he’s already hearing misinformation about what H.B. 60 does and doesn’t do.
“There’s some chit chat going around, people thinking this bill essentially allows them to (concealed carry) without a permit exactly like they would with a permit,” Oda says. “But that’s just not true. And I’ve heard it a lot. I’m trying to kind of get the word out because I don’t want people to get in trouble because they’re misunderstanding what’s actually happening.”
First, Oda says, the current Utah carry laws remain in effect until May 5, which means a person could still be cited for a crime if they, for example, carry a concealed gun without a permit before that date.
Another item of note, according to Oda, is carrying a gun out of state. According to the DPS, Utah has reciprocal agreements with 36 other states that recognize the Beehive State’s CFP in their jurisdiction. Oda says if someone chooses not to get a permit in Utah and they travel to another state, they’ll be subject to the laws of that state, which can vary greatly. In other words, just because Utah has changed their law, a permit might still be needed in another state.
Oda also said he’s heard from people who think the new law makes it so they don’t have to renew their Utah CFP, which typically expires five years after it’s issued, but permit renewals will still be required. Permits are also required to enter school grounds legally with a gun. Permits will also be required to carry defensive guns while hunting.