Herbert urged to veto gun bill

2013-03-18T00:04:00Z 2013-04-04T06:32:56Z Herbert urged to veto gun billThe Associated Press The Associated Press
March 18, 2013 12:04 am  • 

SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah's Catholic leader is urging Gov. Gary Herbert to veto a measure eliminating the need for a permit to carry a concealed gun in the state.

Bishop John C. Wester of the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City wrote to Herbert that the bill "establishes a culture in Utah that prioritizes deadly weapons over human life."

"Most importantly, removing all restrictions on Utahns who want to carry firearms in public parks, businesses or any other suburban or urban locale sends the message that deadly force and intimidation are not only allowed in our state, but encouraged," he said.

House Speaker Becky Lockhart said the bill achieved veto-proof, two-thirds majorities in both the House and Senate, and reflected the will of constituents.

Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker and Alissa Parker, whose daughter was among 20 students killed in December's school shooting in Newton, Conn., joined Wester in pressing for a veto.

The measure would allow anyone 21 or over to carry a hidden gun, as long as it's unloaded and the person hasn't been convicted of a crime that bars a person from legally owning a firearm. It would eliminate the need for classes or background checks.

"I am convinced that HB 76 presents a danger to public safety and removed an important safeguard," Becker wrote in a letter to the governor. "I ask you in the strongest possible terms to veto the bill when it arrives on your desk."

Parker also contacted the governor's office to urge Herbert to veto the measure. Her 6-year-old daughter, Emilie Parker, was killed in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. While Parker lives in Connecticut, she's originally from Utah and her daughter was buried in Utah.

The bill was opposed by the Utah Chiefs of Police Association and the Utah League of Cities and Towns.

Aides to the governor say the tide of public opinion turned against the bill last week with calls and emails running more than 3-to-1 against it. Several weeks ago, aides had said calls and email were overwhelmingly in favor of the measure.

While Herbert has stopped short of saying he would veto the bill, he has repeatedly said Utah's gun laws aren't broken and don't need changing.

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