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Live Mic: Expanding background checks on Utah gun sales is shot down again

Rep. Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, talks during a press conference for Latino Media Day at the Capitol as the State Legislature begins its session on Jan. 28, 2013. Photo: Deseret News File

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah- For the third year in a row, House Minority Leader Rep. Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, has sponsored legislation for expanding background checks on gun sales in Utah.

King joined Lee Lonsberry on Live Mic to discuss why he’s pushing for this bill again after past failed attempts.

“I’ve been very clear. I am not a supporter of universal background checks. And yet I have each year that this comes up a conversation with Representative King. I do so because it is important to understand and hear both sides.” Lee said.

King said most people would agree that those who have been convicted of a violent crime or domestic abuse should now be able to buy or even possess a firearm.

“It’s very well-established under federal and state law that individuals in those categories are not to be in a position where they can own or purchase or possess firearms,” he said. “I’m a gun owner myself, but I think that there are some individuals who by virtue of their behavior shouldn’t be gun owners.”

Background checks

King’s bill, HB205, requires background checks for the transfer of a firearm between persons who are not federal firearms licensees (FLL), creates exceptions for family members, law enforcement agencies and officers, and others. It also provides criminal penalties for a violation of the provisions of the bill.

King said if you purchase a firearm from a retail outlet, such as Gallenson’s Guns and Ammo in downtown Salt Lake City, you have to undergo a background check.

“They have to be federal firearm licensee, and they have to run those background checks,” he said. “[But] It’s very clear under Utah law, when you purchase a gun, either at a gun show or at a private purchaser . . . you don’t have to go through that background check process.”

An online survey of 1,613 adult gun owners in 2015 found:

  • 22 percent overall said they obtained the guns without a background check. But that includes guns that were purchased or received in another way, such as through a gift or inheritance.
  • 13 percent who purchased firearms — for example, from a friend or online — said they had done so without a background check.

Third time not a charm

King also spoke with Lee about the standing of his current bill and his previous attempts at passing the same legislation.

“The bill file that I have opened ended up [is] not getting out of the [House] Rules Committee this year. Last year, the same bill ended up having a hearing before a committee and was voted down,” King said. 

“Representative King, I’m grateful to you for for walking through this with us,” Lee said.


Utah Democrat resurrects bill for universal background checks on gun sales

Live Mic with Lee Lonsberry can be heard weekdays from 12:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app.