Saturday, 30 July 2011

Sensible Gun Restrictions

I've said before that I think that Utah's conceal-carry laws are far, far too lenient (arguably, they're the loosest in the United States of America, which would put them in the running for least restrictive worldwide, or at least in the Western world). It is entirely possible for someone who has never even held a gun, let alone fired one, to pass a CCW course and obtain a permit here.

I love my CCW, and I conceal carry at my own discretion. I tried many different guns before I settled on the one I love and own, which is designed for concealed carry.

This morning, the Salt Lake Tribune ran a headline that threw a scare into me for a moment: "Utah revokes record number of concealed gun permits." Yikes! But, it turns out, not only is this new gun regulation sensible and completely reasonable, it actually doesn't go far enough (in my opinion). Quoth the Trib:

For the first six months of this year, the agency revoked 539 permits. For all last year, the agency revoked a total of 523 permits, according to a report issued by the Bureau of Criminal Identification.

The reason?

A law signed by Gov. Gary Herbert that took effect May 10 requiring applicants from other states seeking a Utah concealed-weapon permit to obtain one from their home state first. Previously, there was no such requirement, making Utah’s concealed-weapon permit an attractive option for those in states that some view as having more stringent training requirements or that charge more for their license.

Excellent. Our weird (and unique) absentee-permit policy has never made sense to me. The multi-state compact - by which certain states honor each others' concealed carry permits - makes sense to me, but obtaining a Utah permit basically by mail is odd and pointless.

Here's what I'd like to see in terms of gun control laws here in Utah. I'd like to keep our current "castle laws" intact, and add self-defense provisions for public places similar to Florida's (see here for details). In exchange for this relaxation of regulations, I'd revamp our CCW process to require a minimum number of range hours with a certified instructor in addition to the currently required safety and law class. That, and I'd require people to have a CCW before they're allowed to rent guns at a range - our state allows anyone, permit or no, to rent firearms at a range to try them out with nothing more than a driver's license, and does not require supervision on the range.

While there's no direct line between A and B, I would argue that at least partially as a result, Get Some Guns and Ammo, a store I love (but one that leans more toward the "black rifle" crowd), has seen a rash of suicides where an unstable person rented a firearm, went out to the range, and then shot themselves.

So: in exchange for loosening laws for those who clear the permit process, I would be willing to see a more restrictive process to begin with. The current requirements of fingerprints, a class, a background check, etc. are a good start, and with range time requirements and the new restrictions on out of state permits, I think we'd get gun laws just about right in this state.


  1. I'm interested in knowing how you feel about what people in my situation should do. I live in Vermont, a state with essentially no regulations governing gun ownership. Vermont does not require or even issue CCW's. I intended to acquire my Utah CCW the next time I was visiting my home state, so that as a Vermont resident I could carry weapons in other states that I can legally carry in Vermont. So now, other than going to Florida, what do I do? I would much rather have a Utah permit since I have life-long ties to the state.
    -Unit Dawg

  2. Unit Dawg - that's a very, very interesting question. As far as I know the new regulations require ALL out-of-state applicants to have permits from their home state, so I have no idea how someone from a state that doesn't issue any permits at all would go about getting one. I will do this: I can email my friend Spencer, who knows Utah gun laws better than anyone I know, and see if he has an answer.