(Gun Owners of Utah)
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GOUtah! Alert #292 – 3 March 2008
Today’s Maxim of Liberty:
"...to disarm the people - that was the best and most effectual way
to enslave them."
HB 473 GETS TURNED INTO GUN-CONTROL BILL, PASSES HOUSE. CAN STILL BE
DEFEATED IN SENATE.
Disclaimer: We’re not lawyers. We’re just regular guys. So any
interpretation we present as to what is and isn’t legal under the
existing Utah Code is done for the purpose of analyzing the potential
impact of certain legislation and should not be regarded as legal
advice. Whew! Glad we got that out of the way!
HB 473, Rep. Curt Oda’s excellent pro-gun-rights “housekeeping bill”,
designed to clarify the existing open-carry law without changing it,
has been hijacked by anti-gun members of the House leadership (most
notably House Speaker Greg Curtis and House Rules Committee Chairman
Steve Urquhart) and amended to turn it into a gun-control bill.
The good news is that Floor Amendment 1, Sponsored by Rep. Urquhart
and detailed in GOUtah! Alert #291 (see http://www.goutahorg.org ),
got killed in the House today. This seriously anti-gun amendment was
killed ONLY because individual gun owners like you called their
representatives over the weekend. Please pat yourselves on the
back. Had it not been for your efforts over the last couple of days,
Floor Amendment 1 would have probably passed.
The bad news is that Rep. Urquhart replaced it with another hastily-
drafted amendment, called House Amendment 2, which appears to be less
restrictive than Floor Amendment 1 in terms of how it treats open and
concealed carry, but which is still a piece of gun-control
legislation intended, we believe, to needlessly placate the anti-gun
administration of the University of Utah. And it will still impose
new restrictions on both open and concealed carry by permit holders –
restrictions that aren’t in the current Utah Code as far as we can
tell. Thus, House Amendment 2 is still gun control and it still
needs to be defeated.
HB 473 passed the House with House Amendment 2 attached to it. Which
means that if the bill passes the Senate as-is and gets signed into
law by the Governor, it will cause us to lose some of our existing
rights. And we won’t even gain anything in return. Not a good
bargain, in our view.
We believe that it’s too late in the session for HB 473 to be
restored to its original form, and that opening it up for further
last-minute changes will just present more opportunities for mischief
on the part of anti-gun legislators. So we believe that HB 473 now
needs to be killed in the Senate. Please go to the Action Item below
to see what you can do to help make this happen.
Our initial analysis of House Amendment 2 indicates that it appears
to eliminate the 1,000-foot zone around schools (zones in which open
carry would have been prohibited by the earlier amendment). And,
unlike the earlier amendment, House Amendment 2 defines “concealed
carry” to include a firearm that’s concealed in a “purse, handbag,
briefcase, or similar object carried by the permittee” (which was
oddly defined as a form of “open carry” in Floor Amendment 1). Also,
House Amendment 2 does not appear to prohibit open carry by permit-
holders on the grounds of day-care centers, pre-schools, and K-12
schools, which was prohibited by the earlier amendment.
However, like the previous amendment, House Amendment 2 continues to
prohibit open carry on the campuses of all public and private post-
secondary schools, meaning vocational schools, colleges, and
universities. Private post-secondary schools are not even given the
option of allowing open carry. So if someone sets up a private
training academy for armed security guards, with its own indoor
shooting range, students and faculty with concealed-firearm permits
will need to keep their weapons concealed at all times, even while
shooting at the range.
Furthermore (and this could be a real problem), House Amendment 2
requires that if you have a firearm concealed in a purse, briefcase,
handbag, or “similar object”, you must actually be carrying that
object. Which means that if you set your purse or briefcase on the
floor next to your seat during a lecture or while you’re in a meeting
or while you’re on the toilet at any public or private vocational
school, college, or university, you will be guilty of a crime. And
what about backpacks? These aren’t even mentioned in House Amendment
2, which means that we’ll just have to hope that a court somewhere,
sometime, rules that a backpack is “similar” to a purse or briefcase.
House Amendment 2, depending on how the term “similar object” gets
interpreted by the courts, may also prohibit an adult student with a
CCW permit from carrying an unloaded firearm in a locked gun case or
suitcase from his car to his dorm room.
Right now, as we interpret the existing law, public post-secondary
schools (including the U. of U.) cannot prohibit open carry by permit
holders, while private schools have the option of prohibiting or
allowing it by way of school policy. Under HB 473 as amended by
House Amendment 2, open carry (and certain forms of concealed carry,
as outlined above) will become automatically illegal at ALL post-
One other thing to note is that House Amendment 2 does not have any
requirement for post-secondary schools to post signs on the premises
indicating that open carry is prohibited. We believe that if a piece
of legislation creates new restrictions on the carrying of self-
defense weapons by law-abiding citizens, the people who sponsor that
legislation ought to at least have the decency to require the posting
of those restrictions, as is the case, for example, with traffic
signs at intersections where no left turn is allowed.
Note: Floor Amendment 1 can also be referred to as “House Amendment
1”. We’re still calling it “Floor Amendment 1” just to be consistent
with our previous alerts. We’re calling the new amendment “House
Amendment 2” because that’s how it’s now labeled on the Legislature’s
website and we don’t want it to be confused with any floor amendments
that might get introduced in the Senate.
Please contact your Utah State Senator and ask him to vote against HB
473. There are only two days left in the legislative session, so
it’s best to send an e-mail, or leave a message at the Senate
switchboard, or send a fax to your senator at the Capitol, or phone
your senator at home this evening.
Your senator’s e-mail address and home phone number can be found at
http://www.goutahorg.org by clicking on “Legislative Contacts”.
Faxes and phone calls to the Capitol can be made using the following
Senate Switchboard: 801-538-1035
Fax for Republican senators: 801-326-1475
Fax for Democratic senators: 801-326-1476
Once you’ve done this, you may also wish to drop a brief note to
Senate President John Valentine with the same message.
Sen. John Valentine email@example.com
That concludes GOUtah! Alert #292 – 3 March 2008.
Copyright 2008 by GOUtah!. All rights reserved.
PRE-WRITTEN LETTER BELOW
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Dear Sen. ________________________:
As a gun owner and active voter living in your district, I encourage
you to vote against HB 473 (Rep. Curt Oda’s “open carry” bill) as
passed by the House. HB 473 got changed on the House Floor from a
good bill into a bad bill by way of a hostile amendment (House
Amendment 2). The original bill was a simple and well-written
housekeeping bill designed to clarify the existing law without
changing it. The modified bill as passed by the House actually
introduces new restrictions on the carrying of legally possessed
firearms (both openly and concealed) by permit holders – restrictions
that don’t exist in the current law. Even certain forms of concealed-
carry would become a criminal act under House Amendment 1, such as
setting one’s purse or briefcase on the floor next to one’s seat
during a college lecture if the purse or briefcase contains an
otherwise legally concealed self-defense weapon.
This bill, as passed by the House, also represents a needless cave-in
to the anti-gun administration of the University of Utah, which has
repeatedly disobeyed state gun laws and thumbed its nose at the
Thus, I believe that HB 473 in its current form needs to be allowed
to die in the Senate.
Thanks for taking time to consider my opinion on this matter. Please
get back to me after the session to let me know how you voted on this
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