The state’s top gun-lobby group, the Utah Shooting Sports Council, is organizing an effort to override Gov. Gary Herbert’s veto of a bill from the 2013 session that would have allowed most Utahns to carry concealed weapons without a permit or background check. In an e-mail sent to supporters, the group has even suggested that liberal New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his “anti-gun allies” helped get the bill vetoed.
The e-mail sent to supporters sounded the alarm for Utah gun owners by apparently trying to connect the policies of liberal New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to not only Utah Gov. Herbert’s veto of House Bill 76, but gun policy in Colorado.
“You can be sure that after taking down the formerly pro-gun state of Colorado, billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his anti-gun allies are crowing about their victory on getting a veto of HB 76," the e-mail reads. "They have overrun Colorado and now have their foot in the door in Utah. Let's slam that door shut hard on their foot and let them know they are not welcome in Utah.”
The e-mail then calls on supporters to contact their lawmakers and push for an override vote to be brought in a special session. As for the e-mail’s language, it clearly suggests that somehow, the uber-liberal Bloomberg and his gun-hating cabal have somehow influenced the governor of one of the most conservative states in the union to veto HB 76. Asked about the wording of the e-mail, Utah Shooting Sports Council Chairman Clark Aposhian said simply, “I didn’t write that.”
“It’s a different director that sends the e-mails,” Aposhian says, suggesting the board should comment on the e-mail. “[The council] doesn’t necessarily vet all the e-mail alerts with the entire board.”
In an e-mail response, council board member Bill Scott says the alert warns that Bloomberg's "Mayors Against Illegal Guns" was active in lobbying in Colorado and could see the Utah veto as an opening here. "We believe that many of these groups may see the veto as an opening and start bringing in big money to go after the Second Amendment," Scott writes.
Despite the fact that the alert says Bloomberg and his allies are "crowing" about "their victory" over HB76, Scott also says the alert doesn't say Bloomberg and his cronies directly influenced Herbert's decision, but that they are "quite happy about it."
While the Governor’s Office did not return a comment at the time of this post, a statement the Governor’s Office released on March 22 about the veto fails to mention bowing to the demands of East Coast liberals.
“As a state, we must exercise extreme care that we not impose undue burdens on the right to bear arms, but I have yet to receive any credible evidence that Utah’s current permit process constitutes a hardship,” Herbert’s statement reads. “Indeed, there are currently more than 430,000 holders of a Utah concealed-carry-firearm permit both inside and outside the state.”
While Herbert didn’t mention getting calls from Bloomberg, he did acknowledge plenty of calls and e-mails from those in the public-safety field worried that people who normally would not receive concealed-carry permits because of criminal records or mental-health conditions would now be able to carry concealed, to the peril of Utah’s law enforcement community.
Alice Moffatt, director of the Utah Bureau of Criminal Identification, previously told the Legislature that there are as many as 800 revocations and suspensions annually of concealed-carry permits in the state because individuals have developed mental-health problems or been convicted of crimes that disqualify their permit status, such as domestic-violence crimes. Herbert also expressed support in the current system's safety checks.
“Utah has been, and will continue to be, well served by the screening function of its concealed-firearm-permit system,” Herbert wrote.
Lawmakers have said they will wait until after April 3, the Governor’s last day to sign or veto bills, to decide whether they will call for a special session to override Herbert’s vote.