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'Red flag' bill ready at state capitol, gun lobby opposed

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A ‘red flag’ plan could temporarily take guns away from dangerous people in Utah, but the gun lobby seems firmly against it, and a showdown may be coming soon at the State Capitol. (Photo: KUTV)

A ‘red flag’ plan could temporarily take guns away from dangerous people in Utah, but the gun lobby seems firmly against it, and a showdown may be coming soon at the State Capitol.

The ‘Extreme Risk Protective Order’ bill was raised here in Utah last year, after the deadly Parkland, Florida school shooting, but is recast now as a suicide prevention measure.

Before the Super Bowl, the Crossroads of the West Gun Show was going on at the Mountain America Expo in Sandy. There, concern was expressed by a spokesman, who said the bill would “weaken our 2nd Amendment rights.”

“I’m a gun owner. I have a concealed carry permit,“ said Rep. Steve Handy, R-Davis County. “But why can’t we have the conversation?“

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Handy is sponsoring H.B. 209, which would allow a court to order temporary seizure of firearms from a person who made “a recent threat of violence,” or is deemed by a judge to be “dangerous.” Other factors, including a violent criminal conviction, would also be considered.

“I think it’s common sense,“ said Handy. “It has that school safety component.“

“Would it reduce the number of suicides in Utah?“ 2News inquired.

“We don’t know; I can’t look in a crystal ball and say that,“ Handy replied. “But the data seems to indicate—from other states that we’ve studied—that it would.“

Handy has had meetings going back nearly a year with Clark Aposhian, chair of the Utah Shooting Sports Council, trying to enlist his support for the plan. But Aposhian is still opposed.

“Why shouldn’t guns be taken away from dangerous people?“ 2News asked Aposhian.

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“They are. They can be right now,” he answered. “We have existing law.“

Aposhian is backing a Utah House resolution urging enforcement of statutes already on the books, saying H.B. 209 would trigger one-sided court cases against someone accused of being dangerous. He also stated his view the proposed legal standard for the judge to decide to remove guns is too low.

“I don’t think it’s going to pass,” Aposhian said. Handy put the chance of the bill making it through the Legislature at 50-50.

The measure has not yet been assigned for a hearing, but it could happen this week.


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