SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (May 10, 2021) – Last week, a law authorizing adults to carry a concealed firearm in the State of Utah without first obtaining government permission went into effect. The enactment of this bill also fosters an environment hostile to federal gun control.
On Dec. 22, Rep. Walt Brooks (R-George) filed House Bill 60 (HB60). Under the new law, anyone who is legally allowed to own a gun can 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.
The Senate passed HB 50 by a 22-6 vote with a few minor amendments. The House previously passed HB60 by a 54-19 vote. The House concurred with the Senate, with a vote of 51-20. The law went into effect on May 5.
“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 will 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.