By: José Niño
Utah is one step closer in becoming America’s next constitutional carry state.
Last week, the Utah State House passed HB 60, Utah’s Constitutional Carry bill, by a wide 54-19 vote margin. The bill will now head to the Utah Senate, where it will be voted on. Republicans make up the overwhelming majority of the Senate (23 Republicans to six Democrats), which makes the bill’s passage more likely.
Utah State Representative Walt Brooks is the chief sponsor of HB 60.
"This bill helps protect the rights of self-defense for every Utahan,” Brooks said. “The perception of this law implies a significant change, but the reality is it's a very small change. You can carry a gun in your home, on your property, in your car, and open carry, but if you cover that open carry gun with your jacket, you're now breaking the law.”
Under HB 60, Utah’s concealed carry permit system will stay in place for reciprocity purposes with other states that recognize Utah permits. Constitutional Carry allows lawful individuals to carry a firearm without a permit. It’s a solid step in restoring the right to bear arms.
The fight to bring Constitutional Carry to Utah has been a multi-year project. Back in 2013, the state legislature passed Constitutional Carry, however, then-Republican Gov. Gary Herbert vetoed the bill once it arrived at his desk.
Now, the game has changed with Spencer Cox as the Republican governor of the state. Early in January, Cox indicated that he supports Constitutional Carry.
"I think there are now something like 17 states that have some sort of constitutional carry or permitless carry, and so we would sign that bill," Cox told the local media.
GPM reached out to Gun Owners of America’s Senior Vice President Erich Pratt for his take on Utah’s Constitutional Carry legislation:
“It’s well past time that Utah joined the seventeen other states and repealed the unreasonable and unconstitutional limits on Utahans’ Second Amendment rights.
House Bill 60 is a good step forward in removing many of these firearm restrictions and will allow Utah citizens to exercise their right to carry without being registered like sex offenders.”
While 2020 ended on a sour note, gun owners have much to look forward to throughout this year; 2021 is indeed shaping up to be a big year for Constitutional Carry with other states, including Louisiana, Montana, Tennessee, and Texas, also considering their own permitless carry bills.
Constitutional Carry is one of the most successful pro-Second Amendment initiatives the Right has spearheaded in the last 15 years and will continue to be well into the 2020s. The lack of progress at the federal level when it comes to rolling back gun control opens up avenues for states and lower governments to fight back against gun grabs.
One thing we should keep in mind is lower levels of government provide us with an abundance of avenues to effect change and build formidable political machines that can deliver even larger victories further down the line.
Gun owners and other activists on the Right would be wise to get involved in fights that actually have momentum, such as Constitutional Carry, and use them as a way to score policy wins, build up their respective organizations, and move on to bigger political projects.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Get his e-book, The 10 Myths of Gun Control, here.