The Utah State Legislature talks gun confiscation for mentally ill, enhancing school security

Posted at 2:23 PM, Feb 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-26 19:17:53-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- In response to the school shooting in Florida, members of the Utah State Legislature are proposing bills ranging from gun control measures to enhanced school security.

Rep. Stephen Handy, R-Layton, said he was drafting a bill that would allow someone to petition the courts to confiscate firearms for someone who is determined to be severely mentally ill.

"They’re not in the state of mind where they’re thinking responsibly. I think all of us understand that who have friends family who have serious problems," he told FOX 13.

Rep. Handy said it would be a temporary removal of firearms and insisted there would be due process through the courts.

"These are tools for people that have proven to do harm to themselves and or to the public," he said.

A leading gun rights group in Utah worried the measure would go too far.

"Due process should be paramount especially when we’re talking about a constitutional right," said Clark Aposhian of the Utah Shooting Sports Council. "It’s open ended, there’s no clear way to restore someone’s ability."

It's the latest measure to be taken up in the aftermath of the shooting in Florida that killed 17. House Speaker Greg Hughes' office said he would convene a task force to look at whether other things need to be addressed ranging from gun control and new technologies for safer use of firearms, to addressing mental health issues.

"We put all the possible options, even if they sound crazy, and there’s reasons why they shouldn’t work, let’s put them all on the table," said Rep. Mike Kennedy, R-Alpine, who would head it up.

Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, said he was also personally drafting a bill that would spend more for school security. Speaking to reporters on Monday, the Senate President said he did not support President Trump's idea to arm teachers.

"I would never want to mandate the arming of teachers. There’s many teachers who don’t feel comfortable carrying a gun. I don’t feel comfortable," he said. "Let them teach. And then let’s provide the security at the schools so they don’t have to feel they have to carry a firearm."