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Utah lawmaker: Guns should be legal without permit

However, prevention group thinks process should be tightened

SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah lawmaker wants to allow all state residents who can legally have a gun carry and conceal it without a permit.

Rep. Carl Wimmer, R-Herriman, said he plans to introduce a bill to eliminate the requirement for a state concealed weapon permit to carry a loaded gun.

People who do not live in Utah would still need a permit issued by Utah or another state.

The measure is being drafted for the legislative session that begins Jan. 24.

Wimmer said it wouldn't change laws about who can legally have a gun. Felons, people who have committed a violent crime and illegal residents are now prohibited from carrying a gun.

"If you're a law-abiding, upstanding citizen, you can protect yourself by carrying a gun without a permit," Wimmer said.

Alaska, Arizona and Vermont already have similar laws, he said.

The proposal would not eliminate concealed weapon permits because people would still need them to carry a concealed gun in other states.

Also, Utah allows residents of other states to apply for the state's concealed weapon permit.

Gun Violence Prevention Center board member Stephen H. Gunn said Utah should be tightening its permitting process. For example, the state should require that permit holders prove they know how to shoot a gun.

"We should go the other direction and more greatly restrict the class of people who can carry a concealed gun or openly carry a gun," Gunn said.

To qualify for a concealed weapon permit, applicants must pass an extensive background check, said Lt. Doug Anderson, who oversees the permit program for the Utah Department of Public Safety.

State and federal databases are checked for criminal history, mental defects and residency status, Anderson said. After approval, permit holders are checked against arrest reports from around the state on a daily basis.