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Is Utah Going to Pass Constitutional Carry in 2021?

By: José Niño

Utah State Representative Walt Brooks is sponsoring HB60 in the Utah State Legislature for the upcoming 2021 legislative session, which kicks off today.

According to Desert News, the current Constitutional Carry bill is similar to the one Brooks introduced at the end of the 2020 legislative session. This bill would have scrapped the state’s requirement for law-abiding Utah residents 21 and older to acquire a permit for the lawful carry of a concealed firearm.

“Every single person has the right to protect themselves,” Brooks said. “It’s allowing a law-abiding citizen to be allowed (to put their gun) under their jacket or a wife to put it in her purse.”

According to current Utah law, people can legally open carry a firearm without a permit, however, for lawful concealed carry, a permit is necessary.

Brooks believes that his bill will gain enough support from both chambers of the Utah State Legislature and incoming Governor Spencer Cox.

“Both Governor-Elect Cox and Lt. Governor-Elect (Deidre) Henderson have said they would support a constitutional carry bill and look forward to working with the sponsors on the details,” Cox’s spokeswoman, Jennifer Napier-Pearce, said.

Back in 2013, then-Governor Gary Herbert vetoed a similar bill. Herbert maintained that Utah’s permitting system “has been in place for decades, and in its current form for more than 15 years. In that time, it has become a national model.”

Regardless of this veto, Brooks has not been deterred in trying to pass Constitutional Carry. The Utah state representative is now using data to make his case for Constitutional Carry. He maintains that concealed carry permit restrictions don’t have much of an impact on criminal behavior. Brooks’ research on the topic has only intensified his desire to pass Constitutional Carry.

“This is really not a left and right issue,” Brooks said. “This is just a good data issue.”

Brooks alluded to a 2019 study by the Journal of the American College of Surgeons that determined that concealed carry laws at the state level had no impact over 30 years, during the period of 1986 to 2015, on homicides and violent crime.

“So basically it does no good to take away someone’s right to carry,” Brooks said. “They see no difference.”

Chris Stone, Communications Director for the National Association for Gun Rights, told Gunpowder Magazine that Utah is among the list of Constitutional Carry states the organization is targeting in 2021.

“NAGR field staff are working around the clock to help pass Constitutional Carry in states like Montana, Utah, and Tennessee,” Stone said.

Despite the Democrat trifecta in D.C, Stone is of the opinion that there will be plenty of opportunities for pro-Second Amendment advocates to tap into in the next two years. NAGR leadership is in no way fearful of what lies ahead, which Stone noted:

Our strategy will be to hold federally elected officials accountable for their anti-gun votes, and restore gun rights at the state level. We didn’t back down in 2013 when President Obama tried to pass gun control, and we’re not backing down in 2021.

At a glance, Utah looks like a low-hanging fruit for passing Constitutional Carry, though gun owners will still need to put pressure on legislators and use best practices to make sure that politicians in Salt Lake City get the message that not passing Constitutional Carry will come with a massive political cost.

Despite some setbacks, 2021 can still be a big year for the Second Amendment if we channel our political energy the right way.

José Niño is a freelance writer based in Austin, Texas. Sign up for his mailing list here. Contact him via Facebook, Twitter, or email him at joseinpolitics@gmail.com. Get his e-book, The 10 Myths of Gun Control, here

 
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