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Proposed Law Looks To Incentivize Safer Gun Storage In Utah

Jonathan Hickerson
Rep. Steve Eliason.

With the help of a group of Harvard public health researchers, a Utah lawmaker is planning to introduce legislation on gun safety to try to reduce our state’s high suicide rate.

Rep. Steve Eliason (R-Sandy) is a sponsor of the draft legislation, which modifies an earlier law that had sunsetted. It was unanimously approved during the legislative interim session on Wednesday.

Eliason said the Harvard report that studied gun deaths in Utah shows firearms are significantly more likely to be used on family members than someone breaking into a person’s home.

“When they realize that, I think a lot of gun owners will realize ‘well maybe it is important for me to properly store my firearm so people who shouldn’t have access to it, don’t have access to it,’” Eliason said.

The bill would allocate over $1 million for gun safety equipment and education materials starting in 2020.

If passed, the proposed law would reallocate funding from past years to expand the voluntary program supporting firearm safety equipment. The program includes gun locks for shotguns and other long guns. Funding already exists for locks on handguns.

The law would also provide coupons for gun safes and electronic gun boxes that crisis intervention teams could provide to an individual who might be contemplating suicide.

“I think this will be a very small amount of money well spent with a great appropriate return if it results in reduced suicides,” said Clark Aposhian, chairman of the Utah Shooting Sports Council, who spoke in support of it.

The proposed legislation would be addressed in the 2019 General Legislative Session.

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