I will vote to override Governor Herbert’s veto of 1 HB 76 (Concealed Weapon Carry Amendments). To preface this discussion, I’ll lay out 5 points.
First, the U.S. and Utah Constitutions protect the right to bear arms. It is important to note that Government in no way created that right. To the contrary, the right to bear arms already existed; the Constitutions of the U.S. and Utah both specify that government cannot abridge that pre-existing right.
Second, existing laws are clear that Utahns have the right to openly carry guns, without a permit.
Third, to carry a weapon concealed (e.g., in a briefcase or under a jacket), a permit currently is required. To obtain the permit, a background check and some training are required.
Fourth, 1 HB 76 would make it lawful for people to conceal carry an unloaded weapon without a permit. “Unloaded” means that a bullet can’t be one action away from firing (i.e., a bullet in the chamber or, for a revolver, in the firing position).
Fifth, other than as stated above, 1 HB 76 does not change the provisions or practices of the current conceal carry permit in any way. I’ve read commentary that 1HB 76 would prevent conceal carry permit holders from carrying a loaded gun. That is inaccurate. Permit holders can still carry a loaded gun.
Alaska, Arizona, Montana, Vermont, and Wyoming have “constitutional carry” laws, meaning that non-felons can carry loaded guns without a government-issued permit. Many Utahns believe those laws best fit the Constitutionally-recognized relationship of government and guns described above. As Americans, we take our constitutional rights seriously. When government officials start to talk about taking those rights away, as President Obama and Representative Pelosi are doing, Americans push back. Because, remember, Government didn’t give us gun rights. Gun rights were constitutionally preserved, so that Government can’t interfere with those rights. When government attempts to do so, it is stealing from the people.
One of the most effective ways for Americans to stop the federal government from imparing its rights is to enlist the help of their state legislatures. The United States Constitution has 4 main organizational pillars: (1) horizontal division of federal sovereignty into the 3 branches of government, (2) checks and balances between those 3 branches, (3) judicial review of executive and legislative actions, and (4) vertical division of government power between the federal sovereign and state governments. Of those 4 pillars, only 1 was unique to the United States. (We borrowed the other 3 from other nations). The unique pillar? Number 4: vertical division of government power between the federal sovereign and state governments. One pushes, the other pushes back. One abridges, the other protects.
When President Obama (the most divisive President ever?) decided to go all in on politicizing the Newtown shooting, many Utahns looked to their legislature to push back and send a clear message that Utahns’ right to bear arms would not be abridged by Government. Thus, the proliferation of gun legislation this session.
I believe that 1 HB 76 presents a good solution. Under current law, Utahns can openly carry a loaded gun in a vehicle and other public places (not “on a public street” or “posted prohibited areas”). We also can conceal carry a loaded gun. It makes sense of existing laws—it strikes an appropriate balance—to establish that a weapon can be carried concealed if it is unloaded. Thus, with 1 HB 76 in place, the law would be that (1) a loaded weapon can be carried openly in many instances, (2) a loaded weapon can be carried concealed with a permit, and (3) an unloaded weapon can be conceal carried without a permit.
At this point, the Senate President and the House Speaker will poll their respective members, to see if the votes exist to convene an override session. People should contact their Senator and Representative, to express their desire regarding this bill. I have received much input on this bill and on overriding the Governor’s veto. I believe that the people of my district would like to see this bill become law.
I respect Governor Herbert. He is doing a fine job. This is simply one issue where we happen to disagree. I mean no disrespect to him, just as he meant no disrespect to the Legislature when he vetoed the bill. This is how the process works.