In the spirit of "You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone," the move to effectively end Utah's concealed carry permit system for firearms brought out a great deal of support for a process that many had once considered pretty weak tea.
Utah lawmakers, including many who are unapologetic supporters of a very broad reading of Second Amendment rights, are thus correct to declare victory and allow HB76Veto.pdf">Gov. Gary Herbert's veto of HB76 to stand.
That bill would have moved Utah into the small number of states where "constitutional carry" the unfettered right of most adults to carry a firearm, openly or concealed is the rule.
Based on the kind of flimsy anecdote that often carries all too much weight in the Utah legislative process, the bill was represented as relief for law-abiding citizens who might be legally carrying a weapon openly, only to run into trouble if they, say, put on a raincoat.
There were no examples of anyone in Utah being arrested, or even questioned, for such behavior. It was no more than a hyped-up hypothetical that moved HB76 through both houses of the Legislature by margins that were more than sufficient to override a governor's veto.
Herbert, employing his "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" philosophy, vetoed it anyway. And, as of Monday, it appeared that there are enough members of the Utah Senate opposed to calling a special session that the veto will stand.
Herbert rightly noted that the state's requirement for a permit to carry a concealed firearm is not an unreasonable barrier for law-abiding citizens, but is useful as a way to screen out convicted felons and the mentally ill from getting a permit.
The class required to obtain a concealed carry permit would, in a civilized society, contain a provision that those seeking a permit demonstrate at least a rudimentary ability to load, aim and fire a weapon. Utah's does not. But, as Herbert also noted, that same instruction does impart vital information about the legal expectations that fall upon those who carry firearms.
Since the legislative session ended, Herbert and lawmakers heard from a great many of their constituents, including the Salt Lake Diocese of the Catholic Church and many law enforcement agencies, urging that the bill be vetoed and, once that was done, that the veto be upheld. Other than point out that that was the kind of dialog that should have happened before HB76 was passed, it seems clear that the right decisions has, finally, been made.