Gov. Herbert responds to concealed weapons bill

Posted at 12:37 PM, Feb 21, 2013
and last updated 2013-02-22 00:40:37-05

SALT LAKE CITY - Governor Herbert shared his perspective on Utah's gun laws in his monthly news conference on Thursday.

Herbert commented on House Bill 76 on Thursday, saying that he supports concealed carry permits - he is a longtime permit holder - and thinks background checks for gun ownership are important.

"Background checks ought to be a part of the process. We ought to keep them out of the hands of criminals, of those who are mentally unstable. It doesn't matter if it's an assault weapon or a .22-caliber handgun. They shouldn't have them," Herbert said.

That position puts Herbert on the side with many Utah Democrats like Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Salt Lake City.

"I agree with the governor on that issue. I've taken the concealed carry class and while I wish the class were more rigorous, I think it's the way we ought to continue," Arent said.

Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, says he supports the changes proposed in House Bill 76, and so do the voters in his southern Utah district.

"I do support the bill. My constituents support it probably 80 or 90 percent so I do support the bill," Noel said.

But both Democrats and Republicans say pro-gun advocates who bring rifles and other weapons to legislative hearings are distracting and send a bad message about gun ownership.

"I thought that was absolutely stupid," Noel said. "That's not how people are. I don't bring guns or rifles into restaurants or grocery stores. There's no reason to. Not that I can't do it. What's the point?"

The constitutional carry bill still has to go through a vote on the House floor, then to the Senate.

Another big gun bill, House Bill 114, which would put the state, not the federal government, in charge of gun control and gun control legislation, will go before a committee on Friday morning.