- Associated Press - Thursday, February 2, 2017

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - A Utah lawmaker wants to lower the minimum age to obtain a concealed carry permit to 18, down from 21 years old.

Republican Rep. Karianne Lisonbee of Clearfield, the sponsor of the bill, said this week that she wants to ensure that younger college students can carry if they choose to protect themselves from sexual assaults on campus.

“This is the equalizer for those young women who may get attacked,” Lisonbee said. “They need to have that right.”

Lisonbee also said that if 18-year-olds can serve in the military and potentially die for their country, they should be allowed to carry a concealed weapon.

Her bill has not yet had a hearing, but Lisonbee said she expects one to be scheduled next week.

Utah currently allows 18 to 20 years olds to carry a weapon openly. At 21, a person can apply for a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

Seven other states expressly allow those 18 and older to have concealed carry permits, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Lisonbee said a total of 16 states allow 18-year-olds to carry concealed weapons because of their reciprocity agreements recognizing out-of-state permits.

Lisonbee’s bill would allow those age 18 to 20 to get a provisional concealed weapons permit if they pass a background check and complete a firearms training course or prove other familiarity with firearms, such as having military experience. The permit would expire when they turn 21 and would not allow them to carry a gun in K-12 schools, something Utah allows for teachers and administrators with concealed permits.

Messages left with Utah Parents Against Gun Violence seeking comment on the legislation were not returned Thursday.

The move to grant a provisional concealed carry permit to those 18 to 20 comes as Utah lawmakers this year are once again considering scrapping the permit requirement for anyone 21 and over.

Gov. Gary Herbert, a Republican, vetoed a similar proposal in 2013, citing concerns from law enforcement about removing the permit rule. Herbert has threatened to veto the same measure again as lawmakers have reintroduced the measure in the years since, but none of those additional attempts made it to his desk.

But this year, the push is sponsored by Rep. Lee Perry, who is also a lieutenant with the Utah Highway Patrol. Perry is running legislation that repeals the permit requirement for those over 21 and adds in additional restrictions on perpetrators of domestic violence from obtaining or possessing guns if someone takes out a restraining order against them.

So far, the governor appears to have reservations about both proposals.

Of Lisonbee’s bill lowering the permit age, Herbert’s spokesman Paul Edwards said, “The governor wonders what problem we are trying to solve with this,” and if it’s “a solution in search of a problem.”

Edwards said the governor is still reviewing the proposal to remove the permit requirement for those 21 and older.

“If the bill comes forward as substantially the same bill, he will veto it,” Edwards said.


Follow Michelle L. Price at https://twitter.com/michellelprice

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