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Legislature will not override Utah governor’s gun-bill veto

Valentine’s no vote makes 10, just shy of two-thirds majority needed in Senate.

First Published Apr 15 2013 01:13 pm • Last Updated Apr 15 2013 11:16 pm

Supporters of Utah’s "constitutional carry" legislation, which would allow adults to pack a concealed weapon without having to obtain training, a background check and permit, will not have the votes needed to override Gov. Gary Herbert’s veto of the bill.

Sen. John Valentine said Monday that he voted against overriding Herbert’s veto of HB76, making him the 10th senator opposing the override, leaving the body short of the two-thirds majority required to convene an override session.

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"I think there were two main [concerns] coming from both sides of the debate," Valentine, R-Orem, said. "It’s evident that public safety [officials have] some pretty high levels of concern about it. Part of it is the unknown. Part of it is they didn’t feel like they had very much time to vet it."

He said law enforcement officers he spoke with were concerned about how they would deal with untrained gun owners who might be carrying weapons.

The other concern, he said, came from concealed-weapons instructors, who argued that other states might stop honoring Utah’s concealed-weapons permit if Utah passed a constitutional carry law. Utah’s weapons permit is recognized in 34 states, but he said permits from states that have constitutional carry laws on the books are not recognized.

"When both sides have got worries about it," he said, "it’s time to step back and take a breath."

Nine of Utah’s 29 senators said last week they would not support overriding Herbert’s veto of HB76. Two others were leaning against supporting it. Valentine was one of four who was undecided.

Twenty senators and 50 of the 75 House members would have to support overriding the governor’s veto to convene an override session. A survey to measure support in the House was sent Thursday.

The bill passed the Senate with 22 votes. Three of those supporters are not supporting the override — Valentine, Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, and Senate Majority Leader Ralph Okerlund, R-Monroe.

Sens. Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City, and Peter Knudson, R-Brigham City, said last week they were leaning against an override.

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"I am very much disappointed with the guys who are changing their vote," said Sen. Allen Christensen, R-Ogden, the Senate sponsor of the bill. Christensen said he does not expect the bill will be back next session.

"I don’t know why we would. It’s such a very narrow, narrow issue, I don’t know how you compromise on it," he said. "If we can’t override the veto, I just don’t see it coming back again unless we get a whole lot of new votes in there."

He said Utah law already allows people to carry an unloaded firearm in the open. The goal of the bill was to ease the fears of people who are uncomfortable with open carry by allowing people over age 21 to conceal their weapon without having to get a permit.

Herbert, in vetoing the bill, said Utah’s concealed-weapon-permit system is the best in the nation and he saw no compelling reason to change it.

He was urged to veto the bill by dozens of Utah chiefs of police and mayors, and the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City.

gehrke@sltrib.com Twitter: @RobertGehrke

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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