SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah's lawmakers are taking their time to decide if Utah should become a constitutional carry state.
After an hourlong debate on the House floor, a bill that would eliminate the requirement for those who are 21 years old or older to have a concealed carry permit if they desire to carry a concealed firearm was put on hold to be addressed in a later debate.
House Majority Leader Brad Dee, R-Washington Terrace, made the motion to put the bill on hold as time was about to run out before the legislators adjourned for the day. Dee said more discussion was needed.
Rep. John Mathis, R-Vernal, the sponsor of the legislation, said he would have rather have the bill move forward. He felt the discussion on the bill was good and appeared ready to have an up or down vote on whether Utah should loosen their regulation on firearms.
Dee's motion passed on a voice vote and the bill was put on hold.
In explaining his bill to the body of the House Mathis stated his proposal would not change much of what is already in state code. It does not change when or where a person may carry a firearm. He explained it only changed how a person may carry. Under his bill a person open carrying could now conceal his gun without having a concealed weapons permit.
"A lot of my constituents do not know when you are legal or when you are illegal," Mathis said. "This bill is an intent to clear that up."
Rep. Jacob Anderegg, R-Orem, spoke in favor of the legislation and attempted to strike down some concerns opponents of the bill have had. While some have argued eliminating the need for permits means fewer background checks will be done on those attempting to obtain a firearm, Anderegg said many will still get the permit because they will want to carry their gun in other states. Utah's concealed weapons permit is allowed in multiple states across the country. He argued background checks will continue because there will still be a demand for the permit.
Anderegg also pointed out that background checks won't prevent guns from getting into criminals' hands because they aren't going to follow the law to obtain a gun through the legal channels anyway.
Rep. Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, wondered if changing the state's regulation on guns was a good idea in terms of public safety. King said the result of allowing the state to become a constitutional carry state could be more accidental injuries and deaths from those who should not have had a gun or did not have the proper training on how to use a gun.
"I want to make sure that people who have guns and carry them out in our society have gone through some fundamental, reasonable restrictions," King said.
The bill is expected to be heard again soon in the House.
Prior to the House pressing the pause button on Mathis's legislation, representatives approved one gun-related bill. The House moved forward a proposal that would allow Utahns to turn in to the police a gun owned by someone they live with, if they suspect that person is an immediate threat. The gun would remain with law enforcement for 60 days and then be returned to the owner.