SB97 allows anyone over the age of 21 to carry a concealed gun, as long as it is not loaded and ready to fire.
So, why is Hinkins running the bill again when it likely faces the same fate as the two previous iterations? He says he’s not trying to make a political point.
“I’ve got constituents who want it, and I’m just doing my job,” he says.
Hinkins, who represents primarily rural areas in Emery, Grand, San Juan and Utah counties says there’s increased interest amongst his constituents because of what he calls “anti-gun sentiment” coming out of Washington, D.C.
“They’re putting more pressure on me, asking if I’m going to stick up for their rights, or not.”
Hinkins says the issue represents the tightrope lawmakers have to walk when considering matters that have different impacts on rural and urban areas.
“If I’m a country guy, and I’ve got one (a gun) in my glovebox, and I drive to Salt Lake City and get pulled over, they’ll ask me if I have a concealed weapon. All of a sudden you’ve broken the law by coming to the city. That’s not right.”
Hinkins says many rural residents keep guns in their cars or trucks as they drive around to protect themselves from coyotes or in case they come across an animal that needs to be put down. Those guns are often stashed in a glovebox or under a seat to keep them away from children or others who may be riding in the vehicle. Hinkins notes that those very same guns would be legal if they’re left out in the open on the dashboard or a seat.
He also says law enforcement in rural areas often don’t worry about whether someone has a concealed weapon without a permit because carrying a gun is commonplace.
“Down home, nobody bothers you on your property when you’re driving around because you’ve got a gun in there for coyotes or whatever it may be. It shouldn’t be that a law abiding citizen, just because he comes to Salt Lake, that he’s breaking the law.”
Last year, Rep. Curt Oda, R-Clearfield, was pushing a nearly identical measure to Hinkins’ bill but agreed to hold off after meeting with Gov. Herbert. Hinkins’ legislation passed and was vetoed by the Governor.
Gov. Gary Herbert said during a recent media availability he has not yet met with Hinkins about this year’s legislation.
“I know there has been an attempt (to revive the bill) over the summer, but I heard that has not come to fruition,” said Herbert.
Is he planning a third veto for the idea? Herbert was non-committal.
“I would expect to see something different than what we had before.”
Hinkins confirms the Governor has not yet aired his concerns about the bill to him in person, but the governor did acknowledge the measure is on his radar.
“He told me the other night that we gotta talk,” laughs Hinkins. “He wants to take me behind the woodshed, I’m sure.”