Under SB256, sponsored by Sen. David Hinkins, R-Orangeville, anyone over 21 could carry a concealed gun, provided it is not loaded — meaning there is not a bullet in the chamber ready to fire. A gun owner would still need a concealed weapons permit to carry a loaded firearm.
Clark Aposhian, chairman of the Utah Shooting Sports Council, said the bill is a relatively small step for gun owners.
"Our bill's detractors cannot cite … any pattern of problems in the six states that allow this type of thing," Aposhian said. Vermont, Montana, Alaska, Texas, Arizona and Wyoming have similar laws on the books.
But opponents said the current concealed weapons system works and the governor was right to veto it in 2013.
"I was under the impression the Legislature had found the system to be beneficial," said Steven Gunn, a board member of the Gun Violence Prevention Center.
Jean Hill of the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City said gun owners should recognize that there are responsibilities that come with carrying a gun, and the background check and training course make that point.
The Senate committee approved the bill on a 4-1 vote, sending it to the full Senate for consideration.
When Herbert vetoed the bill in 2013, he said that the existing concealed-weapons-permit system served a valuable purpose. The Legislature considered overriding the veto, but could not muster the two-thirds support needed.
This year, Rep. Curt Oda, R-Clearfield, introduced a bill identical to Hinkins', but in talks with the governor agreed to hold off this year in order to address the governor's concerns.