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“Extreme Risk” restraining order bill gets knocked back

UTAH STATE CAPITOL – A bill that was designed to attempt mass shootings in Utah hits a major snag.  The House Judiciary Committee says it needs a lot more work, so they plan to study it during an interim session.

A regular restraining order is issued when one person threatens another, but, what happens if someone is threatening to kill themselves, or a large group of people?  House Bill 438 sponsor, Representative Steve Handy, says the bill would create something called an “Extreme Risk Restraining Order.”  A judge would have had the ability to take away a person’s guns if the evidence shows they’re a threat to the public.  Handy says, “Maybe, it has a piece of the puzzle to hopefully head these things off.”

The bill would have also created penalties for anyone who made a false claim to have someone’s guns removed.  Handy says over a dozen other states are considering similar legislation.  “Regrettably, Florida did not have this statute to, perhaps, stop the Parkland shooter.  They’re acting now.  There are two bills in the Florida legislature, in the House and Senate, competing to get to the finish line,” Handy says.

Some of the other committee members, however, say the bill was not well thought out.  Representative Brian Greene says he was concerned about someone not needing to be present to have their guns taken away.  “This, to me, is more of a gun confiscation effort than it is a public safety measure,” Greene says.

He believes the bill vilifies the weapon instead of the reason behind the crime.  He adds, “The only thing it focuses on is his firearms, or her firearms.  It doesn’t focus on other dangerous weapons that might be in that person’s possession.”

The committee voted 7-4 to send the bill back to the Rules Committee for further study.