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With Time Running Out, State Lawmakers Discuss Measures To Prevent Gun Violence

Austen Diamond

Utah lawmakers are acting with a renewed sense of urgency following the Feb. 14 school shooting in Florida. At least two new proposals to prevent gun violence are being floated at the Legislature.

Rep. Stephen Handy, R-Ogden, opened a bill file last Friday that would make it possible for law enforcement to confiscate the gun of someone who poses an imminent threat to public safety.

They’re sometimes called gun violence restrictive orders or “red flag” laws.  

“So a person could flag — neighbor, friend, family member — flag ‘this person is mentally unstable and I fear for them and they have ready access to firearms,'” he said.

Only five other states have these red flag laws. Handy said his would be modeled after one in Indiana that has a two-tiered system for removal of weapons from dangerous individuals.

There are only two weeks left in the legislative session, but Handy thinks Utah lawmakers should be open to the debate.

“This is such an urgent discussion that we need to have,” he said. “We shouldn’t worry about the deadline. We should start the discussion and see how far we can go.”

After some initial reluctance, Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, now has a proposal that could add armed security at schools.


House leaders say they’re also willing to look at some new gun restrictions and school safety measures before the Legislature ends.


Julia joined KUER in 2016 after a year reporting at the NPR member station in Reno, Nev. During her stint, she covered battleground politics, school overcrowding, and any story that would take her to the crystal blue shores of Lake Tahoe. Her work earned her two regional Edward R. Murrow awards. Originally from the mountains of Western North Carolina, Julia graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2008 with a degree in journalism. She’s worked as both a print and radio reporter in several states and several countries — from the 2008 Beijing Olympics to Dakar, Senegal. Her curiosity about the American West led her to take a spontaneous, one-way road trip to the Great Basin, where she intends to continue preaching the gospel of community journalism, public radio and podcasting. In her spare time, you’ll find her hanging with her beagle Bodhi, taking pictures of her food and watching Patrick Swayze movies.
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