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A Look At Gun Rights And Gun Control Bills On Deck For The Utah Legislature

photo of Utah State capitol building.
Brian Albers
The Utah Legislature reconvenes on Jan. 19 and they’ll consider several bills related to gun ownership.

The Utah Legislature didn’t pass any gun rights or gun control bills last year. So, some lawmakers are trying again in 2021.

Here’s a look at the proposals under consideration for the General Session that starts Jan. 19.

Concealed Carry Permit

There are two bills that remove the requirement for gun owners to get a permit to carry a concealed weapon. One of them, sponsored by Rep. Walt Brooks, R-St. George,drops that requirement entirely.

The other one, sponsored by Rep. Cory Maloy, R-Lehi, eliminates the requirement during a declared emergency.

“There's a right to keep and bear arms,” Maloy said. “When you talk about law abiding citizens and you talk about lawful gun owners, the concept of a concealed carry permit is really one that doesn't necessarily need to be there.”

In order to get a concealed carry permit in Utah, gun owners have to submit copies of their fingerprints and take a “firearms familiarity course.”

Statewide Gun Regulation

Maloy is sponsoring another gun bill this legislative session. It allows people to sue cities if they pass a law regulating firearms. Cities are already not allowed to pass gun control laws, so Maloy’s bill puts some more teeth in that requirement.

“It reiterates and reinforces the fact that the state has that full responsibility to regulate firearms,” Maloy said. “It doesn't make sense to have cities and counties having different firearm related laws, where someone who has both the U.S. constitutional and state constitutional right to bear arms, [has] to worry about different kinds of laws in every different community that they may go into.”

The bill does allow cities, however, to regulate guns in homeless shelters, correctional facilities and mental health facilities. It also allows them to pass laws related to public shooting ranges.

Maloy sponsored the same bill last year, which passed the House 55-15 but didn’t get considered in the Senate.

Gun Ownership Restrictions

Rep. Andrew Stoddard, D-Sandy, is sponsoring a bill that requires people who are not allowed to own guns to file a form with the court that says they no longer own any. This would apply to people who lose the right to own a firearm after being convicted of a violent felony, or who are on parole for a felony, among other criminal circumstances that disqualify people from gun ownership. Under Stoddard’s bill, people would have 10 days to file the form.

“We are letting these people know when they become firearm restricted so that they don't get themselves into further trouble,” Stoddard said. “It makes the process more smooth in that it explains exactly what they need to do.”

The bill could help cut down on gun violence, Stoddard said, by keeping guns out of the hands of people “who we've deemed unsafe to hold them.“

Stoddard ran the same bill last year, which passed the House 67-3, but didn’t get considered in the Senate.

Universal Background Checks

For the third year in a row, House Minority Leader Rep. Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, is sponsoring a bill that would require background checks for all gun purchases.

In 2019 and 2020 the bill did not make it to the House floor for a vote.

Sonja Hutson is a politics and government reporter at KUER.
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