Armed with good sense • On the issue of gun legislation pending in the Legislature, Gov. Gary Herbert is well-armed with what every Utahn needs: No, not a Glock, just some good common sense. Herbert said during his monthly news conference that he sees no reason to tinker with Utah’s concealed-carry law that now requires a permit. HB76, sponsored by Rep. John Mathis, R-Vernal, would eliminate the mandated permit and allow most anyone to carry a gun openly or concealed. Herbert rightly argues that “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Mathis’ rationalization that a rural Utahn might worry about putting a jacket on while carrying a weapon on horseback if he doesn’t have a permit seems a bit of a stretch. Legislators can tweak the law if a rancher is ever arrested for covering his gun while riding a fence line. Until then, the law appears not to be “broken.”
Blessed with an open mind • Former Utah GOP Gov. Jon Huntsman says he now favors giving all American couples, gay or straight, the rights and privileges accorded by marriage. It is refreshing to see a politician willing to change his view on a controversial issue, especially when so many others in his party are adamant that same-sex couples do not deserve the civil rights the state confers on the wedded. Their objections are mostly religious in origin, but marriage — better called civil unions for everybody — is basically a legal contract between two people and the state. While it would be most fair to take religion out of the equation and require all would-be spouses to get a license and be united by the state, leaving religious ceremonies to churches, Huntsman’s enlightened stance shows bold support for equality and should be applauded.
Cursed with bad air • A new study has confirmed what many had suspected. The often-horrible air quality found in eastern Utah’s Uinta Basin is primarily caused by emissions from the area’s booming oil and gas industry. At first, the area’s winter ozone problem, while unquestionably causing foul air and health hazards, seemed odd for a region without a Salt Lake Valley-style collection of industry and commuter vehicles. But now it is clear that the oil and gas wells that account for 60 percent of the area’s economy also contribute 99 percent of the ozone-creating volatile organic compounds and 61 percent of the nitrogen oxides. Nobody’s saying production should be shut down. But finding — and mandating — ways to produce those products in a way that doesn’t poison the area’s residents is a job to be done right away.