Utah House committee rejects gun control measure

St. George News stock image

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah lawmakers rejected a measure Monday that would have allowed police to temporarily confiscate guns from those deemed to be a threat, ending the only piece of gun control legislation that was taken up after the Florida school shooting.

The proposal, sponsored by a Republican lawmaker, is similar to “red flag” efforts that a number of states are debating after the deaths of 17 people in Parkland, Florida, increased calls to curb mass shootings.

Rep. Stephen G. Handy, R-District 16 | Profile photo courtesy Utah House of Representatives, St. George News

Members of the Republican-dominated House Judiciary Committee defeated the bill because they worried it went too far in violating a person’s constitutional rights and that it didn’t do enough to address mental health issues.

“This, to me, is more of a gun confiscation effort than it is a public safety measure,” Republican Rep. Brian Greene said.

The bill, which drew opposition from the National Rifle Association and other gun-rights advocates, would have allowed a family member or roommate to ask a court to temporarily remove someone’s guns and block them from purchasing new weapons if the person had made threats of violence or was determined to be dangerous.

Lawmakers also said it came too late in the session, getting its first hearing four days before they are scheduled to adjourn for the year. They asked Republican Rep. Steve Handy, who sponsored the measure, to work on it in the coming months to address their concerns.

Supporters said the legislation wasn’t perfect and wouldn’t prevent every shooting, but it could save lives.

“This offers a legal mechanism to protect students like mine,” said Stacie Lawrence, a Salt Lake City kindergarten teacher. She told lawmakers that there were some warning signs before other mass shootings, including in Florida.

Handy told reporters that he would work with a new task force that’s studying school shootings and try to revive his idea for a special legislative session this summer. He worried that by then, some of the momentum would be lost.

“I think that human beings are that way, we get distracted with the things that we’re doing. Making a living, taking care of our kids and ‘Oh, it can’t happen in Utah,'” he said. “I’ve never said that this is the end-all, be-all, and I don’t think that anyone in any other state feels that way either, but it is a tool.”

The Utah School Safety Commission, which formed last week with backing from GOP House Speaker Greg Hughes, plans to study what more can be done to prevent school shootings before the next school year starts in the fall. It includes representatives from education, public safety, mental health and gun rights groups, but no elected officials or gun-control advocates.

Written by MICHELLE L. PRICE, Associated Press.


Read more: See all St. George News reports on Utah Legislature 2018 issues

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Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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  • tcrider March 6, 2018 at 7:39 am

    What is wrong with allowing police to temporarily confiscate guns from those deemed to be a threat ? This is absolutely ridiculous and I predict
    will also come back to bite any political leader in the buttox , political leaders are underestimating the influence that children will have on their families
    and there will be real indications of this during the midterm elections.

    • RVer March 6, 2018 at 9:34 am

      You really need to ask “What is wrong with allowing police to temporarily remove a Constitutionally-protected right from those that might be a threat?”. Any time you consider allowing agents of the government the ability to remove a right from someone, you first need to think through the all of the consequences – especially the unintended consequences – of doing so.

      First, what level of proof will be required? Are you going to accept the word of a family member or roommate alone? Have such people lied before? What is the recourse if a vindictive individual makes such a claim? What must constitute a sufficient threat to warrant this action?

      Second, what due process is involved? Is the accused given the chance to confront their accuser? Are they presented with representation in court?

      Third, what recourse is available to the accused? What process must they go through to remove the restriction? In what time must their firearm be returned to them?

      Fourth, is this also to be applied to other weapons? Will the individual have knives and vehicles confiscated?

      Fifth, if you were to apply the principle to another Constitutionally-protected right, how would the same considerations be applied?

      There is a reason why there are civil-rights investigations into the police on a far too frequent basis. The rights protected in the Constitution are not to be given away, or taken away, with ease. Securing them required the blood of many good men.

      • comments March 6, 2018 at 11:07 am

        well said

      • tcrider March 6, 2018 at 1:00 pm

        blah blah blah, you sound like an old wore out record, I wonder what your opinion would be if one the murdered kids from Florida were yours?

        • mesaman March 6, 2018 at 9:02 pm

          blah blah blah, any original thoughts lately teensy rider?

  • statusquo March 6, 2018 at 7:41 am

    A judge can already takes guns from people he deems to be insane. The problem with gun control is not enforcing the laws already on the books. We actually have too many laws already.

    • comments March 6, 2018 at 11:06 am

      And like, the FBI being forewarned of an impending school massacre by a degenerate psychopath, and either being too incompetent or too apathetic to do their jobs. Yeah, let’s put more trust in big daddy gov’t… ridiculous. FBI has blood on their hands here, not to mention the 18+ police visits to Cruz’s house, and last but not least the cowardly school resource officer and his fellows.

  • desertgirl March 6, 2018 at 11:08 am

    It really isn’t that difficult to pass legislation that protects our 2nd amendment rights and protects the population from mentally ill. Allowing an annoyed worker or family member to deny someone their civil rights is unacceptable. What is or should be, in my opinion, acceptable is if someone is on social media making threats, if someone goes into a public setting and threatens. In other words if it can be proven that someone is threatening violence it should be no different than putting someone in the hospital against their will for 72 hours. Most of these crazies do not just sit in a stewing, they vent all over the place. Once in custody, it can be determined if that individual is dangerous to themselves or others; then you remove weapons, medications that kill.

    Enough of the extremism from both sides of this issue.

  • Striker4 March 6, 2018 at 11:13 pm

    Ok that’s it let’s stop civilization as it is …. throw everything out, burn everything down let’s go back to living in caves and if you’re hungry grab a stick and go out there and kill sumptin and drag it back to the cave

  • DRT March 7, 2018 at 9:13 am

    I feel so much safer going in to our county libraries, because they have signs prohibiting guns. I’m sure that any bad guys or gals will look at those signs, and immediately realize that they must return to their vehicle and either disarm themselves, or leave. smh

    • Law24 March 8, 2018 at 5:10 pm

      The beauty of Utah is that these signs hold no force of law. I (and you) can still legally carry there. If I get caught, they can ask me to leave. If I refuse to leave, I can be charged with trespassing, but that’s it. The only places that are illegal to carry in are court houses, correctional facilities, secure areas of law enforcement offices, secure areas of airports, secure areas of psychiatric/behavioral facilities, and federal buildings including post offices. Everywhere else is free game.

  • jaybird March 7, 2018 at 7:37 pm

    Regixter ALL automatic/semi-automatic guns and the ammo.

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