SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah state lawmaker is concerned about safety protocols at the Capitol building ahead of the 2021 legislative session.
In a pair of tweets, Sen. Derek Kitchen questioned why guns are allowed inside the Capitol amid the current threat of armed protests.
You can’t bring spray paint into the Capitol, but that AK47? No problem! 🙄 https://t.co/SpXAgMU04c
— Senator Derek Kitchen (@derekkitchen) January 15, 2021
“This is democracy in action, and we need to protect it just like we will a church or school or courthouse,” Kitchen said. “We have the ability to restrict things like paint, but we are statutorily unable to restrict things like guns.”
Kitchen’s concerns were heightened after the Jan. 6 protest that turned into a violent riot at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.
“Preserving democracy and the democratic process is key. If it can be overthrown so easily, what’s the point?” Kitchen said. “This isn’t about responsible gun ownership, this is about making sure our officials aren’t killed.”
Kitchen believes firearms should be prohibited from inside the building.
“That’s exactly what needs to happen at the Utah State Capitol,” Kitchen said. “We need to have safe, secure policy making.”
Due to a recent executive order signed by Gov. Spencer Cox, the Utah State Capitol building is closed to the general public through Jan. 21.
That means visitors will not be allowed inside on the date of the presidential inauguration when protests are expected to be at their height.
Not all lawmakers are on board with an outright ban.
“I am not inclined to support anything that would infringe on those rights and that goes for our 1st Amendment rights and 2nd Amendment rights,” said Rep. Cory Maloy.
Maloy supports legislation that would allow legal gun owners to conceal carry without a permit.
While he recognizes the uncertainty caused by the current political divisiveness, Maloy believes any restrictions would harm those who are responsible gun owners.
“A lot of people are carrying firearms, and there’s never been an incident where I felt threatened or scared or anything like that,” he said. “The majority, nearly all gun owners in my opinion, are lawful gun owners.”
The Utah legislative session begins Tuesday.