Utah lawmaker opens ‘constitutional carry’ bill

SALT LAKE CITY -- It’s a bill to protect law-abiding citizens, according to Representative Lee Perry.

“Just because they put a coat over the top of it or a shirt over the top of it, that shouldn’t make them a criminal,” Perry said of those who carry firearms.

Right now, gun owners need to have a permit if they want to carry a concealed weapon, something Representative Perry says many of his constituents resent.

“It’s the government forcing me to do something that I don’t think the government should force me to do, and the other thing is there is a cost associated with it,” Perry said.

Following in the footsteps of 11 other states, Perry wants to allow Utahns to carry their guns without restrictions or penalties.

“Arizona, Wyoming, and Idaho around us all have a similar law," he said. "It just makes sense. It resonates for people in the western states that the Second Amendment says we have a right to carry a gun."

However, Representative Brian King says there’s no need for this law.

“You can’t show me where good, law-abiding citizens who are acting in good faith are running around being prosecuted,” King said.

He also worries about the unintended consequences associated with easier access to firearms.

“The great majority of deaths related to guns in this state, like over 90 percent of them, arise out of two situations, either suicide or domestic violence situations,” King said.

A similar bill was vetoed by Governor Herbert in 2013, but Representative Perry hopes this year might be different.

“I want to give him the chance to see the positive effects were trying to do here and hopefully gain his support,” Perry said.

Right now, Representative Perry is drafting the language for this bill, hoping to formally introduce it during the 2017 legislative session.