SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (Feb. 8, 2021) – Today, the Utah House gave final approval to a “Constitutional Carry” bill that would make it legal to carry a firearm in the state without a license. The enactment of this bill would foster an environment hostile to federal gun control.
On Dec. 22, Rep. Walt Brooks (R-George) filed House Bill 60 (HB60). Under the proposed law, anyone who is legally allowed to own a gun could carry it without a state-issued license. Currently, to obtain a concealed carry permit, Utah gun owners must be 21 years old, have no felony or drug/alcohol convictions, and cannot have been declared mentally incompetent by a state or federal court. Utah residents would still be able to obtain a concealed carry permit in order to carry concealed in states with CCW reciprocity with Utah.
Utah currently allows open carry without a permit.
“The perception is that this bill is huge,” Brooks said, “but the reality is it’s very, very focused on, ‘Can I take my legally open carried (gun) and cover it with my jacket?’”
EFFECT ON FEDERAL GUN CONTROL
While permitless carry bills do not directly affect federal gun control, the widespread passage of permitless conceal carry laws in states subtly undermines federal efforts to regulate guns. As we’ve seen with marijuana and industrial hemp, a federal regulation becomes ineffective when states ignore it and pass laws encouraging the prohibited activity anyway.
The federal government lacks the enforcement power necessary to maintain its ban, and people will willingly take on the small risk of federal sanctions if they know the state will not interfere. This increases when the state actively encourages “the market.”
Less restrictive state gun laws will likely have a similar impact on federal gun laws. It will make it that much more difficult for the feds to enforce any future federal gun control, and increase the likelihood that states with few limits will simply refuse to cooperate with federal enforcement efforts.
State actions such as passing HB60 would lower barriers for those wanting the option of defending themselves with firearms and encourages a “gun-friendly” environment that would make federal efforts to limit firearms that much more difficult.
HB60 will now go to the Gov. Spencer Cox’s desk for a signature or a veto.