SALT LAKE CITY — Some Utah lawmakers say the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down Chicago's ban on handgun ownership has opened the doors to let any legal gun owner in Utah carry a concealed weapon without a permit.
Rep. Stephen Sandstrom, R-Orem, is considering bringing a bill before the 2011 Legislature to improve Utah's widely accepted gun law.
The bill would eliminate the requirement for Utahns to have a permit to carry a concealed weapon, something they can already do in their homes and cars. But it would allow Utahns to apply for a permit so they can carry concealed weapons in other states.
Thirty-three states accept a Utah concealed-carry permit as valid, said Rep. Curtis Oda, R-Clearfield.
Sandstrom told KSL he considers himself a Second Amendment "purist" and said his proposal represents the intent of the amendment.
"It does not say you have the right to keep and bear arms as long as you have a permit from the federal government or your local or state government — it just gives you that right," Sandstrom told KSL. "Bearing arms means carrying them."
Oda, who has taught concealed-carry permit classes, said he trusts the general public unless they prove otherwise.
"We have to trust each other until we break the law," he said.
So far, Oda said, he hasn't seen problems with concealed-carry permit holders breaking the law in Utah, and he hasn't seen similar problems in Alaska or Vermont, states that don't require permits.
Arizona recently enacted a similar law.
Sandstrom told KSL that other guaranteed rights are not held to the same standard as firearms.
"It's just like freedom of religion: You do not have to go and get an exercise-of-religion card," Sandstrom said.
"I think the time is ripe now," Oda said, for such a law to have success.
But Senate President Michael Waddoups, R-Taylorsville, said it could be years before Utahns are ready to allow weapons to be concealed without a permit.
"I think there's a lot of reasons for what he's doing. But he has to realize that the public perception, the public education process, is not going to let that happen," Waddoups said. "It may take a number of years to get to. We still need to make sure we're not putting guns in the hands of irresponsible people."
Contributing: Lisa Riley Roche