It is kind of the yin and the yang of gun rights and responsibilities – all inside of Rep. Lee Perry, a Utah Highway Patrol officer.
Perry, R-Perry, (that’s right, his family founded the northern Utah town), has one bill this session that will enforce the current federal law that a person convicted of domestic violence can’t possess a firearm. He has another bill that would expand the legal concealed carry law so that a person in Utah wouldn’t have to have a permit to carry a handgun concealed.
Perry, a lieutenant in the UHP, says his HB237 is needed because there is a large loophole in how domestic violence cases are now handled in court.
While it is the current law that a person convicted of domestic violence can’t have a gun, too often when a person makes a plea in abeyance or is sentenced to probation in such a case, no one really makes sure the perpetrator is giving up his rifles or handguns.
The bill says that in such cases, the convicted person would have to come back within 72 hours to prove to the sentencing judge that he has given up his firearms.
Just as important, says Perry, current law says all kinds of folks can’t own guns – like a person convicted of a felony.
But if those restricted people try to buy a gun – and justly fails the background check – little is done about it other than denying the purchase, even though the attempt to buy a gun breaks the law.
The bill says that “immediately,” which likely means within 30 minutes, state background check officials must notify the nearest local law enforcement agency to where the person is trying to buy the gun, that an illegal purchase has been denied – and I.D. that person.
“Maybe law enforcement can get there” to the gun or sporting store “in time to do something about that restricted person trying to buy the gun.”
The restricted person is going to keep trying to buy a gun somewhere else, said Perry. And the sooner law enforcement can stop him or her, the better for the public.
Now, on the other side of the issue, Perry wants law-abiding citizens to be able to carry their handgun concealed if they wish to, without having a state permit to do so.
It only makes sense, said Perry.
“If you can carry a firearm openly,” like in a leg holster as in the Wild West, which is now the law, then if a person puts on a jacket to go outside in the cold Utah winter, why is he subject to arrest if he doesn’t have a concealed weapons permit?
It is current law that you can’t carry a “loaded” gun concealed. That means you can’t have a round in the chamber, even if you have the safety on.
There would still be very good reasons for a person wishing to carry a gun concealed to go through the state’s concealed weapons permitting process.
For one thing, HB112 wouldn’t allow a person to carry concealed outside of Utah. But getting permit allows you to carry legally in more than 30 other states. And his bill doesn’t change the concealed/carry permitting law in any way.
But if 2nd Amendment rights say you can possess a gun in your home, in your car, and carry it openly, then it only makes sense that you could carry it under your coat and not violate Utah gun laws, says Perry.
GOP Gov. Gary Herbert vetoed such a bill several years ago, saying Utah gun laws are adequate and there is no need to change the concealed carry process.