Herbert open to gun reform, criticizes NRA tactics

In this 2018 file photo, Gov. Gary Herbert speaks at the Washington County GOP Lincoln Day Breakfast, St. George, Utah, Feb. 17, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, a former member of the National Rifle Association, said Thursday he is open to changing the state’s gun laws as part of a broader strategy intended to prevent violence at schools.

During his monthly news conference on KUED-TV, the Republican said he supports the NRA’s advocacy and that it would be wrong to blame the group for school shootings such as one last week in Santa Fe, Texas, where 10 people were killed.

But Herbert criticized tactics he called “heavy-handed,” such as the organization’s lobbying last year for a bill allowing people to carry concealed weapons without a permit.

Here are other details from the news conference:

Gun control

Democrats have proposed several gun measures to be considered at next year’s legislative session, including requiring background checks for all gun sales and a ban on bump stocks that allow semi-automatic rifles to mimic fully automatic fire.

Herbert said he isn’t opposed to considering some of those reforms, as well as strategies to promote mental health and anti-bullying efforts.

He mentioned more rigorous background checks and limits on magazine capacity as other possible areas of gun reform.

He also called for increased counseling services and greater collaboration among schools and law enforcement authorities.

Ballot initiatives

Herbert has previously criticized efforts to block initiatives from reaching the ballot after they appear to meet the threshold for voter signatures.

Utah law allows opponents of a proposed ballot initiative to go back to voters who signed the petition and ask them to withdraw their names.

“Our initiative petition process needs to be rethought,” Herbert said, calling the process unfair.

Herbert said there were “some bad actors” involved in the process, pointing to reports of fraud and threats surrounding petitions. But he suggested those were minor issues that will be handled by authorities.

San Juan County

A political dispute with racial undertones is taking place in San Juan County following a court’s finding last year that voting districts had disenfranchised Navajo voters.

The county overlaps with a portion of the Navajo Nation and a judge ordered districts to be redrawn to increase their representation.

Herbert said if it were up to him, he would make the county’s three commission districts at-large seats.

Proposed data center

Herbert said a potential new data center would be a significant net gain for the state, despite concerns expressed by some locals that the company behind the project remains anonymous and stands to benefit from large tax breaks.

The proposed project 40 miles south of Salt Lake City would bring investment in infrastructure to the Eagle Mountain area and expand economic growth west of the heavily populated Interstate 15 corridor, Herbert said.

The name of the company behind the proposed project has not yet been made public. Herbert said it likely would be revealed soon, since local jurisdictions this week approved tax incentives for the plan.

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Twitter: @STGnews

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

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  • RadRabbit May 24, 2018 at 5:51 pm

    Democrats won’t stop with gun control till all your left with is a rock then they’ll ban those too. They have every form of gun control imaginable in California and it doesn’t work, all it does is make it harder for law abiding gun owners to exercise their rights I’ve seen it all before. They will push small bills that take your rights one by one under your nose don’t fall for it.

  • John May 24, 2018 at 5:59 pm

    Why don’t you morons crack down on AAA to curb drunk driving?

  • Striker4 May 24, 2018 at 7:24 pm

    Video games are responsible for everything. they make people drink and drive they make people shoot other people. they make kids bully other kids.
    they make people trash the environment. Video games are responsible for everything including global warming
    The government should outlaw video games and we could live in a Utopia …lol !

    • Real Life May 24, 2018 at 9:43 pm

      No need to call you a complete moron. You put it on full display for everyone to see.

  • Craig May 24, 2018 at 7:52 pm

    The NRA has done nothing wrong. To criticize it for advocating we actually follow the Constitution is wrong.

    The CDC was charg d with showing the benefit of the many gun laws. It was unable to show any were effective.

    This who are anti-gun use a shooting to advocate gun control, not school safety. Their purpose is attacking guns, not helping school safety.

    Again, Israel has shown us how easily it can be accomplished.

    There are many things we could do quickly and inexpensively if only the liberals could be educated that illegally harassing honest people purchasing guns is of no value.

  • Rafiki May 24, 2018 at 9:54 pm

    Every comment here thus far is crazy!!!

    There is nothing ‘against the constitution’ by limiting magazine sizes, we already mandated this for hunting upland game birds.

    There is nothing ‘against the constitution’ by banning bump stocks “ya, automatic rifles are illegal/by permit already” – where were you 2nd admendant peeps then????

    We can all keep our guns and find ways to lessen their negative impacts in society. The NRA isn’t right ‘follow the money’ and the Lib agenda isn’t to take away your families deer hunting rifle. There is common ground here which is what old Herbert is saying.

    This is the only time I’ve actually been impressed with his approach.

    • RadRabbit May 25, 2018 at 9:39 am

      As far as magazine capacity and the FBI’s own evaluation of the “Assault weapon ban” it did nothing to curtail crime or violence, and as a former resident of California where this magazine capacity is still in place no one is any safer due to it. However one thing that seems to escape you and many liberals is that the second amendment isn’t about hunting its a check on the government and a last line of defense against tyranny.

  • Brian May 24, 2018 at 9:56 pm

    Man I wish the Utah Constitution allowed us to recall the governor and other politicians!

  • Not_So_Much May 25, 2018 at 6:53 am

    It begins.

  • HerePliggyWiggy May 25, 2018 at 7:36 am

    Obviously Herbert doesn’t want to be governor any more.

    • Lee Saunders May 25, 2018 at 5:39 pm

      Or maybe he’s finally growing a pair.

  • comments May 25, 2018 at 8:59 am

    Hahaha, so even ol’ “I’m for sale” Herbert isn’t enough of a right-wing loon to please you people. Absolutely hilarious. hahahahaha 😉 Well, at least he’s mormon. That’s gotta be worth somethin’, huh? lmao

  • Lastdays May 25, 2018 at 9:23 am

    Looks like Gov. Herbert is showing who he really is now. And it’s not a Republican or Conservative Republican at all.
    His comments appear to be contrary to the oath he took for office though.
    I believe the Oath goes something like this:
    “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support, obey and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Utah, and that I will discharge the duties of my office with fidelity. ”

    But, like many officials recently, they seem to forget this oath when things get a little controversial or politically charged.
    They are then persuaded to answer to their donors or puppet masters by inventing new laws or un-authorized changes to Constitution or pulling make believe laws out of their @$$ to force on us.

    Now more than ever citizens must re-educate themselves as to what is real and hold elected officials and leaders feet to the fire and force them to act with honesty and integrity.

  • Kirke May 25, 2018 at 9:26 am

    Thank God I say this article. We were about to buy a house in St. George. I havfe no intention of moving from the Peoples Republic of California to the New Peoples Republic of Utah. I thought this was a Republican state. Stop this foolishness.

    • comments May 25, 2018 at 9:48 am

      Good! we got too much traffic already. Stay in Kalifornia, PLEASE!

    • RadRabbit May 25, 2018 at 10:29 am

      Maybe we can trade “comments” for someone like yourself that obviously understands liberty and infringement on rights. The last thing we need is Utah turning into another commie dump like California.

      • John May 25, 2018 at 12:51 pm

        Every village needs an idiot and “comments” has so nobly volunteered for the position!

        • comments May 25, 2018 at 3:20 pm

          you two idiots more than likely voted for this good “conservative” LDS governor. You reap what you sow, huh?

          • John May 25, 2018 at 8:35 pm

            It must really suck being you! Always complaining about everything and blaming everybody else because the world isn’t the operating according to”comments”. WAAAH WAAAH WAAAH, crybaby! You are one sad example of a failure who has no room to talk !

  • John May 25, 2018 at 5:57 pm

    hahahahahahahaha! clueless “comments” hahahahahahahahahahaha!

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