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OUR VIEW: New open carry bill unnecessary

Published: Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, February 29, 2012 12:02


A bill in the Utah Legislature raised a debate over whether firearms should be visible in public. The HB49 Substitute would prohibit local municipalities from enacting or enforcing ordinances against carrying firearms, visible or concealed, without permission from the state Legislature.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clinton, is quoted in a story from the Jan. 30 issue of The Salt Lake Tribune defending HB49. Ray said the intent of the bill was to clarify which situations deserve disorderly conduct charges.

"Just because I'm carrying the gun, they can't give me a disorderly conduct (charge)," Ray said. "If I'm acting in a threatening way, they certainly can."

We disagree with this perception. If a person carrying a firearm acts in a threatening way, police are likely to shoot rather than arrest the carrier. In January, police shot and killed a 15-year-old student brandishing what they later learned was an air gun made to resemble a more lethal weapon.

Perhaps a law-abiding citizen is well within his or her rights to openly carry a firearm, but considering recent news events it would be unwise. Virginia Tech and Chardon High School, in Ohio, are the most recent of several campus shootings that have happened in the U.S. Campus communities are becoming more wary of campus shooting warning signs. A person carrying an easily visible firearm on campus could prompt action from not only police, but faculty, staff or students who resolved to take action at the first potential sign of danger.

The Second Amendment is a constitutional right, but rights should only be exercised with responsibility and the proper education. Anything with the potential to end lives, whether it be a vehicle, a drug or a firearm, should be treated with every possible precaution. If the sight of a firearm has the potential to cause panic, it's best to leave it out of sight.

Some argue open carry has a deterring effect on crime, and we admit the appeal of openly carrying a firearm makes more sense in a dark alley, but it seems to us a firearm would be less of a deterrent on a busy university campus already patrolled by police.

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Tue Mar 6 2012 17:50
@Steve Kent:
Please read this and find out for yourself, why this law is needed. It has nothing to do with OC, but all with police bullying citizens into their interpretation of law.

Regards, DinTex

Mon Mar 5 2012 11:56
You are crossing two separate issues here. This bill seeks to prevent people from being charged with disorderly conduct merely for legally and responsibly carrying their firearms. You disagree with Rep Ray's statement by claiming "If a person carrying a firearm acts in a threatening way, police are likely to shoot rather than arrest the carrier."

The police abuses this bill seeks to prevent are not someone acting in a threatening manner with a firearm. That is already illegal under other parts of the criminal code. Neither does this bill address threatening with a look alike or toy made to look real (both the act of modifying a toy to look real, and the threatening behavior itself is are criminal acts).

Instead this prevents police agencies like the USU or UofU or UVU police forces from threatening disorderly conduct charges against legal carriers who don't conceal while on campus. There is no legal requirement to conceal but the state schools, who the legislature has had to repeatedly slap into place for their attempts to violate the right to carry, continue to try to restrict the right to carry.

The legislature has so far allowed a restriction on on-campus carry by non-CFP holders. But they have made it explicitly clear that anyone with a CFP can carry on campus. Further the CFP is miss-named. There is no requirement to conceal when you have a CFP. The CFP enables you to legally conceal, and it allows you to legally carry openly with a "Utah-loaded" weapon. There are a few areas where carry is not permitted, Utah college campus's are not those areas, yet Campus police agencies continue to harass students who are legally carrying.

You should also consider the fact that incidence of criminal activity by those holding concealed firearm permits (CFP) is far less than that of badged law enforcement officers. You fear that those carrying legally are planning to do harm, yet those carrying are less likely to do harm than the police officers harassing them for legally carrying.

Not passing this bill will do nothing to keep you or anyone else safe from someone desiring to do harm. You mention the recent shooting in Ohio to back your case up, but nobody saw the weapon until he started shooting and the shooter had broken a litany of laws just to get to where he could start shooting. He was under 18 and thus could not possess a firearm, a felony; he was in a Federal Gun Free School Zone another felony, those are two rules that proved their total worthlessness, and there are several more state and federal laws he broke before he even pulled the trigger. This bill will not make it easier to break those laws, nor will failure to pass this bill offer you even one iota of protection.

What this bill does is protect honest citizens, exercising their right to carry responsibly from being harassed and arrested just because someone else is afraid of chunks of metal and wood or plastic.

It has been repeatedly proven as various states have relaxed firearm restrictions that as carry becomes more common, violent crime drops. The areas of the country with the highest crime rates are those with the strictest firearm restrictions, those with the lowest are those with the lightest restrictions on ownership, possession and carry of firearms.

This bill is good and needs to pass. The disorderly conduct charge as a whole should be dropped as it's vague and officers can and do attempt to tack it on whenever possible. Our laws should be clear and concise, not vague and nebulous and up to interpretation by LEO's.

I do commend you for a much more reasoned (though still flawed) approach to this than the tripe you published last week.

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