Utah Senate passes ‘Constitutional carry’ gun law

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah is likely to become a 'Constitutional carry' state, which means Utahns would be allowed to carry a concealed weapon without a permit.

The Utah Senate voted 22 to 7 on Wednesday to approve the bill, which had already been passed by the House of Representatives. The bill will now go to Gov. Gary Herbert, who may veto the bill or sign it into law.

The bill’s Senate sponsor, Republican Senator Allen Christensen, said he believes the bill will become law, and he said the bill will allow honest people to protect themselves.  He said he and his supporters have enough votes in the Senate that they could override a veto—if the governor chose to take that route.

“We have a Constitutional majority on the vote now, and the final step is for the governor’s signature, and I think that will come,” Christensen said. “I honestly can’t put words in the governor’s mouth, but I think he will see the value of this bill.”

If the governor vetoed the bill, it could still become law if 20 Senators voted to override that veto. With less than 48 hours left in the legislative session, such an override would likely require a special legislative session, giving time for supporters and detractors to sway Senators to their way of thinking.

Critics of the bill said doing away with the permit process and the training it requires citizens to undergo could be detrimental.

Sen. Brian Shiozawa, R-Salt Lake, broke away from many of his Republican colleagues to oppose the bill. He said he supports Second Amendment rights, but he said he believes current laws are the best option for Utah.

“If a bill is going to be a good bill, it has to be one that we can enforce, and I’m not certain that this bill that is going to be enforceable,” he said.

Earlier this week activists urged Herbert to veto the bill. Herbert has until the end of the legislative session on Thursday to make his decision.