From the USSC newsletter (December 2010) by Brian Judy, NRA-ILA Utah State Liaison:
The implementation of “Constitutional Carry” has been proposed by many pro-gun activists in the State of Utah and word is that legislation on the subject will be introduced in the 2011 legislative session. The National Rifle Association – Institute for Legislative Action will strongly support such an effort. “Constitutional Carry” legislation would repeal the existing provision of state law which prohibits the carrying of a concealed firearm in Utah without a permit.
The concept of “Constitutional Carry” has also been historically referred to as “Vermont carry” because Vermont was, up until 2003, the only state which allowed the carrying of concealed firearms without a permit. Unlike other states, Vermont never had a criminal code provision prohibiting concealed carry and, thus, the state never implemented a concealed firearm permit system. In Vermont, any law-abiding citizen who can legally own and possess a firearm has always been entitled to carry it in any manner the person chooses: openly or concealed, loaded or unloaded.
In 2003, with strong NRA support, the State of Alaska became the second state to allow law-abiding citizens to carry a concealed handgun without governmental permission. Alaska kept their permit system in place, however, for citizens who desire a permit for firearm purchase exemptions or for carrying in other states which recognize Alaska permits. The State of Arizona followed Alaska’s lead and in 2010 adopted similar legislation to repeal the permit requirement while keeping their permit system in place.
There is absolutely nothing inherently wrong with a law-abiding citizen carrying a firearm concealed. The law that makes the concealed carrying of a firearm illegal can be described by the Latin legal phrase “Malum prohibitum”; that is, the act is only wrong (illegal) because it has been prohibited by statute. This is as opposed to an offense such as murder that would be considered “Malum in se”; that is, an offense which is wrong or evil in and of itself.
In Utah, existing law allows any law-abiding citizen who can legally own or possess a firearm to carry it openly. The difference between a firearm carried openly and a firearm carried concealed can be as insignificant as the donning of a coat. It makes no sense to require a law-abiding citizen to pay a fee, endure a relatively significant bureaucratic process, be subjected to fingerprinting, obtain the government’s permission and be added to a government-maintained list of firearm owners simply so the person can put on a coat.
Only law-abiding Utah citizens are currently obtaining permits to carry concealed firearms. Being allowed to carry concealed without the permit will not change the fact that they are law-abiding.
Criminals are already carrying concealed firearms without permits. Those with existing criminal records who are prohibited from owning or possessing firearms can be prosecuted for mere possession. Those with no prior record, but who commit a crime in conjunction with the concealed carry, can be charged with the other, more serious, offense.
Article 1, Section 6 of the Utah Constitution provides that “The individual right of the people to keep and bear arms for security and defense of self…shall not be infringed…” A concealed firearm permit system essentially puts a price tag on, and is an infringement on, law-abiding citizens’ constitutional right to provide a means of self-protection.
The NRA urges all USSC members to join with us and support “Constitutional Carry” legislation in Utah in 2011!