The Legislature’s leading authority on state gun laws says it is time for a “common sense concealed carry” strategy.
Rep. Curt Oda, R-Clearfield, who himself is a concealed carry permit instructor, has introduced HB260, which he says is aimed (no pun intended) at relieving “nervousness” among the general populace.
Under current gun law, one may only carry in public an unloaded gun if it is open to sight.
“That makes some people nervous,” to see a six-shooter strapped openly to a person’s leg, says Oda, who makes he real living as an insurance agent.
Oda wants to allow that person to conceal his “unloaded” gun under a jacket or in a coat pocket. And that way, he says, the person wouldn’t see the gun, so couldn’t be nervous about it.
There is a rub here, however:
A concealed permit owner can carry a concealed gun with a round, or bullet, in the gun’s chamber – ready to fire.
An “unloaded” gun – one that now must be worn in the open — can have bullets in the gun, but no bullet in the chamber.
In gun legal parlance, said Oda, an “unloaded” gun would require a two-step mechanical operation, or “cock” the gun, in order for an “unloaded” gun to be “loaded,” and ready to fire.
So, under HB260, anyone 21 or over could carry a concealed “unloaded” gun – it would not be in sight – and not be required to have a concealed weapons permit.
It sounds like the only difference between having a concealed weapons permit and not having a concealed weapons permit after HB260 became law would be whether your gun had a bullet in the chamber.
But while that is accurate, it is not the whole story, said Oda.
“You get six real benefits” by having a concealed weapons permit:
— You have a concealed weapons permit, which can be used for other I.D. purposes, like voting.
— You can carry a concealed gun with a bullet in the chamber, or a “loaded” weapon.
— You can carry your weapon on public transportation.
— You can carry your weapon on to school grounds.
— You can carry your weapon in a number of states that have reciprocal concealed/carry permit agreements with Utah.
— You save $7.50 when buying a weapon locally, you don’t have to pay for a full background check.
But the real benefit of HB260, said Oda, is that people who today are disquieted, upset or feel threatened just by seeing an open weapon, likely won’t see that open weapon (they may not know or care if it is “loaded” with a round in the chamber) at all.
“The bad guys don’t carry their weapons openly,” Oda said. The robber who parks his car half a block from the target convenience store doesn’t walk to the store holding his gun in his hand or strapped to his leg, for all to see.
“This does nothing with liability” should the person be legally carrying the “unloaded” weapon concealed, and improperly uses it – to shoot someone or kill someone.
“You would still be liable” under improper use of a weapon, could go to jail, be sued civilly, or whatever, he added.
HB260 is a logical next step to a bill passed in the 2014 Legislature that more fully defined when a person with an open carried weapon was acting in a “threatening” manner, said Oda.
Some people were arguing that just the sight of an open carried weapon made them nervous, and so was “threatening.”
Now, after the 2014 law, the open-carry person has to make verbal threats or take other actions that really are threatening to people around them, said Oda.
Just carrying an open weapon is not a threat.
But, with HB260 in place, that person may be carrying his “unloaded” gun concealed – no one sees it, no one is “threatened, upset or nervous.”