- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 18, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Utah state officials are revoking concealed weapons permits this year at almost record rates because of unreadable fingerprints.

The state has revoked 399 concealed weapons permits through June. That’s more than any of the final-year totals going back to 2012, The Salt Lake Tribune reports (https://bit.ly/1NhOuu0 ).

The increase in revocations is because of a new state rule that calls for permits to be pulled or suspended if there are unreadable fingerprints in the file, said Jason Chapman, a firearms supervisor with the Utah Bureau of Criminal Identification. Previously, the state waited for a person’s permit to run out and just get new fingerprints when the person submitted a new application.

“It’s not necessarily that the person did anything bad if we’re taking their permit away. We just couldn’t complete background checks,” Chapman said.

Eight out of 10 of the rejections this year are for that reason.

The cleansing of the state records puts Utah in line with FBI rules that state a person must request a new permit after two fingerprint rejections.

Applicants for Utah’s concealed weapons permits must take a firearms safety course and send in fingerprints for a background check. The fingerprints are sent to the FBI, which catalogs them in a national database used to prevent criminals from having access to guns.

Miriam Walkingshaw, president of Utah Parents Against Gun Violence and a gun-control advocate, applauded state officials’ efforts to ensure they have a valid database of fingerprints.

“Utah law, in general, when it comes to concealed-carry permits, is already pretty weak,” Walkingshaw said. “(So if someone wants to) carry a loaded weapon in public, we should have a record of their fingerprints.”

About two-thirds of the 612,000 people with Utah permits are from other states. Utah ranks alongside Arizona and Florida as being the most popular for out-of-state permit seekers because it’s recognized in 35 states and allows them to travel more widely with it

Clark Aposhian, a gun lobbyist and longtime member of the Bureau of Criminal Identification’s concealed-carry board, said the state is clearing a backlog of people who didn’t show up to get new fingerprints within one year. He supports the extra layer of inspection and verification.

“We go the extra step to make sure this permit and anyone holding it has gone through very consistent, very in-depth background checks,” Aposhian said.

If the state keeps finding unreadable fingerprints at this rate, it could challenge 20-year-high of 1,046 revocations set in 2011, when new rules made it more difficult for out-of-staters to get a permit.


Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, https://www.sltrib.com

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