Utah Governor Gary Herbert [official website] vetoed a bill [press release, PDF] on Friday that would have allowed people to carry an unloaded, concealed gun without a permit. Utah state representative John Mathis (R) [official website], the lead sponsor of the bill [HB 76, materials], said that the bill would simply allow citizens who openly carry unloaded weapons to put a coat or other cover over these weapons in bad weather [AP report]. In the press release accompanying his veto of the bill, Herbert explained that while he understood Mathis's argument, public safety outweighs the concerns that the bill addresses:
As I followed the debate on this bill, I heard that this legislation is needed because some fear they will be in violation of the law if, because of a sudden gust of wind, their coat temporarily conceals their otherwise openly and legally carried firearm. I understand that concern, but am unwilling to discard an entire system that benefits the people of Utah and is supported by law enforcement when there could be a solution more narrowly tailored to address that issue.The Utah legislature has until May 13 to call a session to try to override Herbert's veto.
A number of state and federal gun control measures have been introduced in the US since the shooting [WSJ backgrounder] at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut in December that left 27 dead, including 20 children. Earlier this week Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper [official website] signed [JURIST report] three bills into law that seek to address gun violence. Last week the Senate Judiciary Committee [official website] approved [JURIST report] two gun control measures which would require background checks for private gun sales and improve security at schools. The Committee also approved a ban on assault weapons, but that bill will not be part of gun control legislation the entire Senate will take up next month and will instead be offered as an amendment. Earlier this month US Attorney General Eric Holder [official website] spoke before Congress [JURIST report] urging passage of gun control measures, including universal background checks and a ban on high-capacity magazines and military style assault weapons. Also this month, the Maryland State Senate approved [JURIST report] a bill making it more difficult to obtain a gun license. In January President Obama [official website] signed 23 executive orders [JURIST report] intended to strengthen existing gun laws and urged congress to take up gun control measures.