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#GunWatch: The gun bills you need to know about, and how they’ll impact you

Gun Bills still in play:

H.B. 17: Firearm Violence and Suicide Prevention Amendments

Rep. Steve Eliason, Republican and Sen. Curtis Bramble, Republican

Passed House, has been introduced to the Senate Rules Committee

H.B. 17 would reinstate, with modifications, a voluntary firearm safety program and suicide prevention education course. It would also require the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health to give a coupon to any applicants for a concealed firearm permit that could be redeemed toward a firearm safe and a firearm safety brochure.

“It’s a continuation of a program we have been doing for a number of years that has been very successful around the original bill. It renews that and enhances it. The original program has given out more than 150,000 trigger locks and about 50,000 educational brochures.

I have to note, when KSL promoted this a while ago, I believe in just a short period of time, that public service announcement gave out, through KSL, resulted in the distribution of over 10,00 trigger locks.

It’s definitely a broad community effort. This bill basically educates the public and gives them resources like trigger locks to help them learn why properly storing firearms can help reduce suicide and how easy it can be if they just gave it a little bit of attention.” – Rep. Eliason

How much will this cost the taxpayers? 

“The National Shooting Sports Federation, which is an association of firearms manufactures supplies these trigger locks to Utah under a program called ‘Project Child Safe’ for $1 per lock. That includes a brochure. This bill would increase the funding a bit to hopefully include a coupon towards the purchase of a biometric safe, which is one of the safest ways to store firearms, and also allows someone quick access if that’s important to them, which it typically is.

One thing a lot of people don’t know is we do have children who die by suicide in the state that have retrieved the firearm from their parents safe because they knew where the key was or had the combination. With a biometric safe, that is nearly impossible.” – Rep. Eliason

 

H.B. 94: Weapons Restrictions Amendments

Rep. Norm Thurston, Republican and Sen. Jacob Anderegg, Republican

Passed House, passed the Senate Rules Committee and has been sent to the Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee

H.B. 94 would eliminate a current exemption that allows peace officers to carry weapons while intoxicated. It also clarifies that carrying a weapon not clearly encased or not readily available is not prohibited, and provides an exception for carrying a dangerous weapon on private property with the owner’s permission.

“It is an outgrowth from changing the BAC drinking level from .08 to .05. In the law, there’s not a separate standard for weapons use while intoxicated. We defer to the same standard for driving as we do for using weapons. If you’re too drunk to drive, you’re too drunk to use a weapon.” – Rep. Thurston

Where is the due process?

“This doesn’t have to do with confiscation of someone’s weapons, it has to do with sighting someone for criminal behaviors. It’s a crime to walk around while carrying a weapon while drunk. This would be a class B misdemeanor. This isn’t about confiscation.” – Rep. Thurston

H.B. 152: Voluntary Commitment of Firearm Amendments

Rep. Cory Maloy, Republican

Passed House, now in the Senate Business and Labor Committee

H.B. 152 clarifies Utah’s “Safe Harbor Law,” which allows citizens to voluntarily surrender their firearms to law enforcement for up to 60 days. Again, H.B. 152 stands in direct opposition to H.B. 209.

H.B. 217: Open Carry Near Schools Amendment

Rep. Joel Briscoe, Democrat

Passed House Rules Committee, referred to House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee

H.B. 217 would prohibit carrying a dangerous weapon within 500 feet of an elementary or secondary school.

“Open carry is legal in Utah. I recognize it as the law. I think it should be limited. I don’t think open carry should be allowed around schools because the lockdowns that occur harm students psychologically and academically. As a former school teacher, a retired school teacher who taught for 26 years, you work really hard to get students in a psychologically safe space where they can learn. This is upsetting.

I spoke with a young man on the phone last night that attends a high school in Salt Lake County where they had two lockdowns last year because a student was openly carrying a gun around the school.

It’s threatening. It’s frightening.” – Rep. Briscoe

Does the bill infringe on concealed carry laws?

“It doesn’t prevent someone with a concealed weapon from walking anywhere near a school. It doesn’t prevent anyone from driving by the school who has a concealed weapon. It just prevents people from carrying a long barrel rifle, or a gun holster, or a gun in a hand, or a gun in a waistband, within 500 ft of a school and makes it a class B misdemeanor.” – Rep. Briscoe

H.B. 325: Domestic Violence — Weapons Amendments

Rep. Brian King, Democrat

Received a favorable recommendation from the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee, waiting on House 3rd reading

H.B. 325 would align Utah state law with federal law, which prohibits those with misdemeanor domestic violence convictions from purchasing or possessing firearms.

H.B. 331: Prohibition on Firearm Modification Devices

Rep. Patrice Arent, Democrat

Passed House Rules Committee, referred to House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee

H.B. 331 would prohibit buying, selling, or possessing “bump stocks,” which modify semiautomatic firearms to more closely resemble automatic firearms.

“Like the rest of the nation, I was just shocked by the 48 deaths and the 422 people wounded in the Las Vegas shooting in 2017. The video footage from that night is so deeply troubling that shows a level of destruction these devices can facilitate. After that shooting, I thought about this issue a lot and talked to many people. I noticed that even the Trump Administration has attempted to ban bump stocks, even though that is being litigated right now. So, I think it’s important that there’s no legitimate use for these devices. All they are doing is turning guns into illegal machine guns and I don’t see any need for them in Utah.” – Rep. Arent

Would the Department Of Justice’s ruling on bump stocks that make his bill redundant?

“No, because that’s being litigated and we don’t know what is going to happen with that because they passed regulations that did not pass a law. There’s nothing that has gone through Congress on this. I mean, I would love for Congress to outlaw these in every state, but that’s not what happened at the federal level. But, I do agree with President Trump that these should be banned, and many other states, by the way, have also addressed this and many more are considering it in their current sessions.” – Rep. Arent

H.B. 418: Universal Background Checks for Firearm Purchasers

Rep. Brian King, Democrat

Introduced into House Rules Committee

H.B. 418 would require background checks for all firearm sales in the state, including gun show sales and private online purchases.

What is H.B. 418?

“There needs to be a background check or some method to identify whether a person is on a prohibited list or they are convicted of domestic violence… The great majority of reasonable people, including those who feel strongly about the second amendment, are individuals who demonstrated by their behavior and by their circumstances that they shouldn’t possess or own a gun. We want to identify those people and reduce the number of people impacted by firearm deaths.” – Rep. King

What are the current background check laws?

“If you are purchasing from a federal firearms employee who has a federal firearms licensee, they’ll perform a background check. If you are a dealer of guns, a commercial seller of guns, or you sell a certain number of guns over a certain time period, you have to be a FFL dealer licensee. But that doesn’t include everyone. There are a lot of gun law transactions that take place–or just loaning of guns–that circumvent the loaning out process.”

For example, Lauren McClusky. The individual who killed Lauen McClusky borrowed the gun from a friend or an acquaintance. The terms of this bill–if that was repeated–the individual who loaned the gun to Lauren McClusky’s killer would have had to perform a background check. You could say that no, there’s no guarantee that happens. But a public education campaign associated with a universal background checks bill would make it more likely that individuals would think twice before they sell or loan their guns to someone that they don’t know that well.” – Rep. King.

What are the loopholes that his law closes?

“We’re saying whenever you convey or transfer or loan or sell a firearm for someone else, you need to be doing a background check.” -Rep. King

H.B. 243: Domestic Violence Modifications

Rep. Christine Watkins, Republican

Received a favorable recommendation from House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee, waiting on House 3rd reading

H.B. 243 would give domestic violence victims the right to conceal carry in Utah, so long as they have a protective order, before receiving the training other concealed carry permit holders are required to have.

“It’s only after they have filed a protective order. Once they’ve filed that order if they do not have a concealed carry permit and they would like to do this, they can start that process.” – Rep. Watkins

Bills that have been tabled or held:

H.B. 87: Safe Storage of Firearm Amendments

Rep. Elizabeth Weight, Democrat

Tabled in House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee, resent to the House Rules Committee

H.B. 87 would criminalize the storage of firearms “in a place that the firearm owner knows or has reason to believe a minor or person legally restricted from possessing a firearm” would be able to access it. It would also require firearm dealers to display a written notice warning of possible prosecution for the negligent storage of a gun.

“If you don’t need your gun for immediate use, lock it up, disable it, make sure that a child cannot gain access to a gun that is ready to use, and a person who is restricted from guns cannot get access to it.” – Rep. Weight

H.B. 190: Liability of Firearm Custodian (Lauren’s Law)

Rep. Andrew Stoddard, Democrat

Held in House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee

H.B. 190 would create criminal liability for anyone who loans their firearm to someone who uses it to commit a felony. It was inspired by the murder of University of Utah student Lauren McClusky, who was killed with a borrowed firearm by someone banned from legally obtaining a gun.

Where is the due process? 

“This doesn’t affect a person’s second amendment rights. A person can still purchase a gun, own it, do whatever they want in it. But the point it leaves their hands and they loan it out, they need to be responsible for what happens next.” – Rep. Stoddard

H.B. 209: Extreme Risk Protective Order

Rep. Stephen Handy, Republican

Stalled in House Rules Committee

H.B. 209 would allow family members of people at risk for gun violence to petition a judge to temporarily suspend their loved ones’ access to firearms. With proof that the person poses a risk for suicide, homicide or other gun violence, the courts could seize a person’s guns and block them from purchasing or renting firearms for up to one year.

“This isn’t a gun grab and this isn’t confiscation. There is a quick hearing, it’s due process, it’s a judge’s order. It would be used infrequently. We give law enforcement discretion. They happen to serve a warrant, a protective order, they have the discretion to say, ‘Hey, this situation is way too volatile. We don’t want a shoot out.’ Well, I don’t want a shoot out, no one wants a shoot out. But, the data shows that if you can create space and distance in time, from the time a person seeks to do harm to themselves, then you could probably back it down. You can cool it off, you can pour cold water on a hot situation. Back it off and hopefully, save lives.” -Rep. Handy

Bills that have been killed:

H.B. 332: Prohibited Persons Amendments

Rep. Susan Duckworth, Democrat

Passed House Rules Committee, Not Considered by House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee

H.B. 332 would impose a lifetime ban on owning or possessing firearms for people who were convicted of domestic violence. It would also enhance the penalty if a gun was involved during the commission of domestic violence, raising the penalty to a Class A misdemeanor.

“If someone has been convicted of a domestic violence they lose their ability to possess. If they have a concealed carry they lose that.  If they’re in the process of purchasing a firearm, BCI has to notify the police within 30 minutes that this prohibited person is attempting to purchase a firearm.” – Rep. Duckworth

H.J.R. 7: Joint Resolutions on Existing Weapons Restrictions

Rep. Cory Maloy, Republican and Sen. Jacob Anderegg, Republican

Passed the House, Not Considered by the Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee

The House Joint Resolution points out 21 existing laws surrounding firearm safety. It argues that the best way to protects Utahn’s rights and safety is to enforce these standing laws, rather than passing new measures such as Rep. Stephen Handy’s proposed “red flag law,” H.B. 209

“We have laws now that could help people immediately. But trying to predict bad behavior before it happens, then you’re getting into an area where people haven’t committed any wrongdoing.” -Rep. Maloy

You can join KSL’s gun control conversation online by using #gunwatch or by texting GUNS to 57500.