“With the passage of this bill, Utah joins 17 other states with some form of permitless concealed carry,” Gov. Spencer Cox, a Republican in his first term, said in a statement to news outlets.
“This bill protects Second Amendment rights, reduces permitless open carry (which is already legal), and includes significant funding for suicide prevention.”
House Bill 60, which was sponsored by Republican state Rep. Walt Brooks, a National Rifle Association member, states that an individual who is 21 or older “and may lawfully possess a firearm, may carry a concealed firearm in a public area without a permit.”
Former Gov. Gary Herbert, a Republican, had vetoed similar legislation several years ago.
According to state data, Utah officials issued over 26,000 concealed carry permits in the 4th quarter of 2020 and renewed another 18,095. As of Dec. 31, 2020, there were 718,218 valid concealed carry permits in the state, including some 290,000 for Utah residents and 427,639 for nonresidents.
Gun rights groups had called for Cox to sign the bill, including the National Association for Gun Rights.
“We’re thankful Rep. Brooks has introduced this legislation and the National Association for Gun Rights field team are working diligently to make sure the legislature promptly passes this bill and puts it on the desk of Governor Cox for him to sign into law.” Dudley Brown, the group’s president, said in an earlier statement.
After the signing, Jason Ouimet, executive director of the National Rifle Association’s lobbying arm, said: “There is no reason a law-abiding person should have to ask for permission to carry a firearm for self-defense, The passage of this bill demonstrates Utah’s commitment to protecting the Second Amendment rights of its citizens. We thank Gov. Cox, Rep. Brooks, and all who supported this important bill.”
Other organizations opposed the bill, including Moms Demand Action.
“Permitless carry legislation strips states of essential permitting and training standards for carrying concealed guns in public. Training is one of the cornerstones of responsible gun ownership, and removing that element is risky,” the group said in a statement after the Utah Senate passed the bill earlier this month.
Republicans hold a so-called trifecta in Utah, enjoying majorities in both state chambers along with having Cox in the governor’s mansion.
The Utah Gun Violence Center said Arizona saw a 44 percent increase in aggravated assaults after the state enacted permitless carry in 2010.
“More loaded and concealed guns mean that every police officer will need to assume a person is carrying a loaded firearm. How do you think that will work out for our black and brown Utah residents?” the group said in a veto message.