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Two different bills aimed at stopping gun violence advance in Utah Legislature

Posted at 9:32 PM, Feb 14, 2023

SALT LAKE CITY — Gun restrictions and rights continue to be a hot topic on Utah’s Capitol Hill as state lawmakers try to respond to the nation’s gun violence crisis.

“We have worked hard this session to address that issue. There are a number of bills working through the House and Senate to address that issue,” said Clearfield Rep. Karianne Lisonbee.

On Monday night, a bill failed in a committee that would’ve fined gun owners if their firearms were not safely secured and then stolen and used in a crime. Although that was rejected, two other gun-related bills got the approval to head to the Senate on Tuesday.

The Senate Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee unanimously approved Salt Lake City Rep. Brian King’s firearm reporting requirements bill.

H.B. 86 would require the Bureau of Criminal Identification to keep a record of how restricted persons got their guns. The bureau would share that data with the legislature.

“It’s basically an information-gathering bill,” said King.

King’s bill was both supported by the Gun Violence Prevention Center of Utah and the Utah Shooting Sports Council.

“We think data is important. We think it’ll offer important insights to better focus our efforts on something we all want to do, which is reduce deaths,” said Clark Aposhian, chair of the Utah Shooting Sports Council.

“There are few things that give me greater hope than the prospect of people across wide gulfs of ideologies will be able to gather and accomplish great things,” said King.

Lisonbee proposed a bill to waive the state’s conceal-carry fee for educators. That’s around $57.

“We are encouraging teachers to harden the target to carry on school grounds to protect students if they so choose,” she said.

Public comment was torn between whether or not it is a teacher’s responsibility to carry.

“I do not think we need to encourage or pressure our teachers into thinking they need to be armed in classrooms,” said Barbara Gentry, a retired school teacher with the Gun Violence Prevention Center of Utah.

“I and essentially every other student I’ve interacted with feel much more secure at our school the more resources are poured into providing protection for our students,” said Ethan Rollins, a Utah Valley University student.

The committee voted to advance H.B. 107 with a 2-1 vote.