The Utah's Legislature is charting a far different course from Colorado in addressing guns and violence. Utah would loosen its already liberal gun laws ("Liberal" can be a confusing term, no?) as Colorado tightens their's.
What a difference having a couple of America's worst mass murders in your state can have on politicians. Colorado lawmakers are pushing ahead legislation requiring background checks on private gun sales and limits on magazines.
But as Salt Lake magazine's Mary Brown Malouf discovered, despite a murderous shooting spree at Trolley Square xxx years ago, Utahns feel a very different emotion when it comes to guns, in two words, big love.
Utah Rep. John Mathis, a Vernal Republican, is pushing HB76 that would allow anyone 21 or over to hide a gun on their person—as long as they've not been convicted of a crime that restricts them from owning a firearm.
Opponents of the bill fear it would increase the chance of accidental discharges because it eliminates the safety training course required for concealed carry. Of course, Utah's concealed weapon training course, which doesn't even require an applicant to touch a real gun—let alone actually fire one at a range, is pretty much a joke, anyway. But the state does require a background check and does keep records on who is packing heat.
Rep. Paul Ray's HB26 that bars cops from citing anyone for disorderly conduct simply for displaying a gun would protect people carrying weapons, including rifles and shotguns, outside their clothes—which is legal in Utah—unless and until they do something completely stupid with the firearm.
Still circling in committee is the most controversial bill, HB114, sponsored by Rep. Brian Greene that would mandate that Utah, not the federal government, regulates firearms in the state. It would allow sheriffs to arrest federal agents who attempt to seize a gun. Rep. Curt Oda, shown at left with his equalizer, is a co-sponsore of Greene's so-called Second Amendment Preservation Act.
State attorneys, by the way, say Greene's bill would likely be tossed out of court as unconstitutional.
Maryann Martindale, executive Director of Alliance for a Better UTAH says the gun rights bills would "seriously infringe upon the right of Utahns to live safe, productive and meaningful lives."