The NRA has fought for years to keep concealed firearm permit (CFP) fees in check in Utah and has regularly opposed any proposed increases on those fees. Lo and behold, it has just come to light that the CFP account may have as much as a $5 million surplus. This surplus is money that CFP applicants have paid in excess of the actual cost of issuing permits. This money should stay in the CFP account and be used ONLY to administer the CFP issuance program and fees for permits should be reduced going forward.
Word is coming from the Capitol, however, that the Legislature is looking to raid this account and shift money to the General Fund so the money can be used for other unrelated governmental purposes. Using CFP applicant money to pay for anything other than the issuance of CFPs is absolutely unacceptable and Utah NRA members and firearm owners must demand that the state budget not be balanced on their backs!
To add insult to injury, Representative Steve Eliason (R-45) has sponsored House Bill 134 to specifically divert $900,000 from the CFP account to the Department of Human Services to fund a “firearm safety program.” HB 134 tasks the state suicide prevention coordinator, in consultation with the violence and injury prevention coordinator, local mental health and substance abuse authorities and the State Office of Education suicide prevention coordinator, with the creation of the firearm safety program. HB 134 would empower unelected state bureaucrats from a department with no connection to firearms and which is most likely populated with people who don’t like firearms to create a firearm safety brochure. There is already a tremendous amount of information on firearm safety available to the public through organizations like NRA, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) and the Utah Shooting Sports Council (USSC). Utah NRA members do NOT need the Utah Department of Human Services reinventing this wheel and using your money to do it!
The intention of HB 134 is ostensibly to cause a reduction in suicide. However, the root cause of suicide is mental illness, not how firearms are stored. Roughly half of suicides are committed without firearms and numerous studies have shown that a reduced access to firearms has no effect on total suicide rates. Since 1991, when the firearm-suicide rate peaked nationally at 61 percent, firearm ownership has dramatically increased while the percentage of suicides involving firearms has dropped to just over 50 percent. Finally, the example of Japan speaks volumes. Japan has almost entirely prohibited the private ownership of firearms, but its suicide rate is roughly 50 percent higher than that of the United States. HB 134 may be well-intended, but it is misdirected. The source of funding is NOT appropriate and the choice of Human Services as the messenger is cause for alarm!
House Bill 134 is pending on the Third Reading calendar and could come up for a vote before the full House any day. Please contact your representative immediately and urge them to vote “NO” on House Bill 134 and demand that the Legislature NOT raid the Concealed Firearm Permit account for any purpose not directly related to the issuance of concealed firearm permits.
Also, Contact your state senator immediately and demand that the legislature NOT balance the state budget on the backs of CFP holders!