Permitless Carry Bill Succeeds in Utah, Effective May 2021
Eve Flanigan 03.01.21
After running the proverbial constitutional carry flag up the pole more than once, Utah has become the 18th state to not require a license to carry concealed. The law, which had been House Bill 60, was signed by Governor Spencer Cox on February 15. Actual implementation will be May 5th assuming no changes to the end date on the calendar of the current legislative session.
The law passed, after gaining a sizable amendment, by a majority of 54 to 19 in the state’s Republican-majority House. All, but four of Utah’s primarily Republican representatives voted to approve. Two of those were absent; two voted against. Among the 19 Democrats in the House, two broke party lines to vote in favor of the bill. In the Senate, the bill met with partisan approval with all 22 GOP members who were present voting “yes,” and all six Democratic senators giving it thumbs-down.
Under HB60, Utah residents and visitors to the state are not required to have a permit to carry a concealed handgun. Utah will continue its licensure process, though, to provide the opportunity for card-carrying residents to carry concealed in states that have reciprocal agreements with Utah. The course also provides basic safety training and awareness of Utah-specific regulations about where one can and cannot legally carry, as well as the legal use of deadly force. Obviously, those are topics that would be good to be versed on before making the decision to carry a gun in public.
As one of a handful of states that approves issuance of carry permits to non-residents, Utah’s concealed carry program has been a popular one. Residents of more restrictive states can obtain a permit there and enjoy legal concealed carry in reciprocating states.
This arrangement has surely been, and will continue at a scaled-down pace, to be at least a modest source of revenue for the Beehive State. Perhaps this inspired a modification to the bill. While it removes the licensure requirement for concealed carry, it also establishes a fund from the program’s coffers to provide suicide prevention and gun safety education. The way these programs will be implemented is not clear in the bill’s language.
Utah’s new carry system will not have state residency requirements like North Dakota’s and Wyoming’s. In its announcement and analysis of the new law, a Libertarian-leaning blog, TenthAmendmentCenter.com waxes optimistic. Author Mike Maharrey opines that eliminating concealed carry permitting requirements at the state level “subtly undermines” federal attempts at new gun restrictions, likening permitless carry laws to states’ decriminalization of marijuana possession. Such laws render federal enforcement efforts not worthwhile, for the most part. Less fear of enforcement, Maharrey says, leads to a stronger market while fostering a culture of acceptance with a wide welcome gate for anyone interested in, in the case of HB60, bearing guns for self-protection.