June 19, 2008

Official: Policing Out-of-State Permits Tough

By Sheena McFarland, The Salt Lake Tribune

Jun. 19--About 650 people living outside Utah are licensed to teach classes to qualify other out-of-staters for the state's concealed-weapon permit.

Administrating them, however, is becoming increasingly difficult. The state works on a "tattle-tale" system to ensure instructors are doing their jobs properly, Lt. Douglas Anderson, manager of the Bureau of Criminal Identification, told the Legislature's Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice interim committee Wednesday.

Trouble is, Anderson has just three firearms investigators, which makes it difficult to determine what's being taught outside Utah, he said.

Besides those concerns, Rep. David Litvack and Sen. Scott McCoy, both Salt Lake City Democrats, said they wonder if Utah could be held liable if an out-of-stater who holds a Utah permit commits a crime. McCoy pointed out that while in-state technology allows the state to run daily criminal checks on Utah permit holders, out-of-staters are only checked when they apply for a permit every five years.

"We're sending out that privilege across the country without any kind of ability to apply the same check that we apply to our fellow Utah citizens," McCoy said.

But Clark Aposhian, chairman of the Utah Shooting Sports Council, said it's important to continue licensing all Americans. Since 1994, 2,069 license have been revoked out of about 117,000 issued. That's less than 2 percent.

"The ability to defend one's self should not stop at a state's border," he said.

Dee Rowland, chairwoman of the board of the Gun Violence Prevention Center, said that a background check only every five years was "frightening" because much can happen during that time, such as deteriorating mental health or domestic violence.

Richard Townsend, deputy commissioner of the Department of Public Safety, said it would be better not to issue out-of-state permits.

"We feel like we could do a much better job of serving our Utah residents and get done much quicker," he said.

The committee will hear more on the subject in upcoming meetings.

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