House passes resolution declaring Utah should focus on current gun laws before making new ones

Rep. Cory Maloy, R-Lehi, speaks to House Joint Resolution 7 on the Utah House floor prior to it passing in a 56-16 vote, Salt Lake City, Feb. 14, 2018 | Photo courtesy of the Utah Legislature, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A resolution declaring Utah lawmakers should consider existing gun laws before enacting new ones passed the House Thursday afternoon.

The Joint Resolution On Existing Weapons Restrictions, also known as 2019’s HJR 7, passed with a 53-16 vote and now moves to the Senate for consideration.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Cory Maloy, R-Lehi, has stated that Utah already has a good balance of gun-related laws and that those should be considered and enforced before the Legislature makes new laws. However, he also said the measure wasn’t meant to strike down the consideration of future laws,

“I’m not saying we have everything we need. I’m not saying things don’t need to be changed or modified,” Maloy said on the House floor. “But it is important that we realize we cannot infringe on our constitutional rights at the same time we’re trying to protect people.”

The resolution came before the House on the one-year anniversary of the mass-shooting massacre at a high school in Parkland, Florida, which had a cascade effect of multiple states considering and enacting new gun laws in its wake.

Read more: Hundreds call for ‘more sane’ gun control during protest march in St. George

Rep. Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, speaks against Joint House Resolution 7 on the Utah House floor, Salt Lake City, Feb. 14, 2018 | Photo courtesy of the Utah Legislature, St. George News

The anniversary of the shooting was mentioned by Rep. Brad King, D-Salt Lake City, who did not agree with language in the resolution that stated “that the Legislature recognizes that the laws already found in the Utah Code provide sufficient tools for protecting its citizens from the threat of fatal violence.”

There are not enough tools at the state’s disposal to properly deal with gun violence, King said.

“I can’t support this resolution because I simply don’t think its wise and I don’t think it complies in its terms with what the bill’s sponsor says and acknowledges,” he said, adding that gun legislation should be considered on a bill-by-bill basis.

Among the gun bills introduced to the Legislature this year is House Bill 209 from Rep. Stephen Handy, R-Layton.

A so-called “red-flag” gun law, Handy’s bill would allow a judge to issue a protective order temporarily removing someone’s firearms from their home should the judge be convinced by a petitioning family member or law enforcement that the subject of the order poses a threat to themselves or others.

Rep. Walt Brooks, R-St. George, one of 29 House co-sponsors to House Joint Resolution 7, Salt Lake City, Feb. 14, 2018 | Photo courtesy of the Utah Legislature, St. George News

Read more: Proposed ‘red flag’ law in Utah seeks to prevent gun violence, including suicide

A primary focus of the bill is to help prevent suicide by firearm, Handy previously told St. George News.

According to a recent poll published in The Salt Lake Tribune, 68 percent of Utahns polled would support a red flag gun law while 26 percent would oppose it. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent, according to the Tribune.

Handy was among those who spoke on the floor about Maloy’s bill.

“I learned a lot in this resolution. This is terrific information,” Handy said. “I’m glad to have this information.”

While pleased with the information the resolution presented, Handy said he did not support the idea of the Legislature potentially not considering future laws and joined with others in voting against it.

The Utah House vote on House Joint Resolution 7, Salt Lake City, Feb. 14, 2018 | Photo courtesy of the Utah Legislature, St. George News

Rep. Walt Brooks, R-St. George, who is one of the resolution’s 29 House co-sponsors, proposed removing the word “sufficient” from the measure’s language as King “made a good point that we don’t have all the sufficient tools.”

However, the resolution does help lawmakers understand just what laws on Utah’s books – it lists over 20 of them – that can act as a foundation for future laws moving forward, he said.

“I believe this resolution helps us realize what’s already in place and how we can build upon it,” Brooks said. “It’s good to be reminded of the existing laws.”

Brook’s resolution was supported by Maloy and unanimously passed by the House.

“We have good laws,” Brooks told St. George News Friday, “but we knew everything’s not fixed.”

However, Brooks said lawmakers should consider existing laws first as “throwing another one on the problem isn’t always the answer,” particularly if it infringes on the Second Amendment and due process.

Other Southern Utah representatives who are sponsoring JHR 7 include Reps. Travis Seegmiller and Phil Lyman. Sen. Evan Vickers is the resolution’s Senate sponsor.

Read more: See all St. George News reports and opinions on Utah Legislature 2019 issues

Resources

Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!