The Utah legislature passed a “constitutional carry” bill this week allowing eligible residents to carry a concealed gun without a permit. The legislation was sent to Gov. Spencer Cox’s signature on Thursday, and he is expected to sign it into law.
Passed by the Utah Senate by a 22-6 vote and the House by a 51-20 vote, the bill allows any person over 21-years-old who is legally allowed to possess a firearm to carry without a permit. It also directs unused funds in the Concealed Weapons Account to be transferred to the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health for suicide prevention efforts, in addition to creating the Suicide Prevention and Education Fund within the division for additional suicide prevention efforts.
A spokeswoman for the governor told the Washington Free Beacon that Cox is expected to sign the bill into law as early as this week. If signed by Cox, the new law will go into effect on May 5.
Residents of the state will still be able to receive a concealed carry permit to meet requirements in other states, if necessary.
The Utah Shooting Sports Council website said the pro-Second Amendment group has been working to pass “Constitutional Carry” in the state since 2013 when former Gov. Gary Herbert vetoed a previous effort.
“Thank you to all the people who have worked on this bill for the last seven years. Special thanks to the 23 Senators and 51 Representatives who voted in favor of the bill. Please remember who they are when campaign season rolls around and they look for volunteers to help their campaigns,” the group’s website says.
Moms Demand Action, a prominent gun-control group, attempted to prevent the bill from moving forward, calling on the governor to veto the “dangerous” legislation.
“Clearly our lawmakers’ ties to the gun lobby mean more to them than their constituents,” said Mary Ann Thompson, a volunteer with the group’s Utah chapter. “It’s unacceptable that our lawmakers passed a bill to gut suicide prevention training when nearly 85 percent of Utah’s gun deaths are suicides. Governor Cox should follow in the footsteps of his predecessor and immediately veto this bill.”
Republican David Hinkins, a Utah state senator who sponsored the bill, asserted the group’s claims were unfounded.
“The three safest states in the U.S. have permitless carry laws: Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine,” he said during a floor debate. “This is not a left or a right issue, it’s a good policy backed by good data.”