Tribune Editorial: Utah should not tell other states what their gun laws are

Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes visits The Salt Lake Tribune Editorial Board, Friday, September 23, 2016.

Utah — or at least most of Utah’s elected officials — are often heard extolling the virtue of states’ rights. Whether the issue is public lands or marriage equality or education, you don’t rise very high in this state’s political circles unless you are all about the 10th Amendment.

Except when they aren’t.

Utah, by and through its attorney general, Sean Reyes, has joined with the top cops of 20 other states (Republicans all) to support the passage of a bill now before Congress that would force each and every one of the 50 states to recognize the concealed carry firearm permits issued by each and every other one of the 50 states.

The fact that some states don’t think Utah’s process for granting concealed carry licenses is good enough isn’t good enough for Reyes and his allies. Allies that include, of course, the National Rifle Association.

Carrying the water of the gun lobby, the 21 A.G.s argue that it is a violation of the Second Amendment’s right to keep and bear arms for California, say, or New York to determine for itself that they want to hold hidden weapons carriers to a higher standard.

Utah’s permitting process is deeply flawed, mostly because it does not require a would-be pistol packer to so much as touch a live firearm, much less visit one of the state’s many firing ranges to prove that they know a trigger from hole in the ground.

No, all you need to be a licensed carrier in Utah is to have a clean criminal record (no domestic violence, no findings of mental illness) and pass a brief class. We even allow residents of other states to buy what have become much-valued permits online or by mail.

It should be within the right of any state to set a minimum standard for allowing a person to endanger themselves and others by making it legal for them to tote a hidden gat.

Yes, people who carry concealed weapons can also endanger people who deserve to be endangered — thieves, murderers and, well, other people with guns. But, they also present a clear and present danger in active shooter situations, as other good guys with guns — i.e., the police — don’t know which of you to shoot.

Neither Congress nor any official of any other state should be telling the duly elected authorities of any state what kind of standards — if any — they want to hold their gun-carrying citizens to.

The full-faith-and-credit argument — the one that has all the states recognize all the other states’ driver licenses and marriage certificates — doesn’t really make sense. Not with the levels of gun violence we see across the nation.

This is an idea that needs to be shot down.