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Utah considers ‘red flag’ gun confiscation law

Handguns and ammunition. (MaxPixel/Released)
February 06, 2019

Certain Utah residents might be at risk of temporarily losing their gun rights thanks to the latest bill introduced in the state house.

Those deemed as dangerous may lose the right to own a gun as part of a “red flag” plan to prevent suicide, KJJZ News reported.

Utah looked over a similar bill following the Parkland, Fla. school shooting but set it aside. Now a modified bill has made its way to the State Capitol.

Gun rights advocates say that the bill would weaken their Second Amendment rights.

Republican Rep. Steve Handy of Davis County sponsored H.B. 209. “I’m a gun owner. I have a concealed carry permit. But why can’t we have the conversation?” he said.

Handy initially offered his red flag bill at the end of the 2018 session but was challenged by opponents who were worried about “the process and level of proof needed to obtain such a court order,” the Salt Lake Tribune reported.

H.B. 209 would authorize the courts to seize weapons from those considered dangerous, having a prior violent criminal conviction, or making a recent threat of violence.

“I think it’s common sense. It has that school safety component,” Handy said.

When asked if the bill would reduce the number of suicides, Handy replied, “We don’t know; I can’t look in a crystal ball and say that. But the data seems to indicate—from other states that we’ve studied—that it would. “

Handy has been hashing out the subject for a year now with Clark Aposhian, chair of the Utah Shooting Sports Council with no resolution.

Aposhian said existing law already takes guns away from dangerous people. He supports the laws that are already in place and fears that H.B. 209 may show bias in courts when determining of someone is considered “dangerous.”

“I don’t think it’s going to pass,” Aposhian said.

The bill could get a designated hearing date as early as this week.

Connecticut has had a law similar to H.B. 209 for nearly two decades and studies have found that it works in preventing suicide.

Maryland, Delaware and Illinois have enacted red flag laws recently and New Jersey will too in September.

Currently, Ohio is also trying to enact a red flag law following a Clermont County sheriff’s detective being shot and killed last weekend, Fox 19 News reported.

The suspect, Wade Edward Winn shot the detective after a 12-hour standoff where he threatened to kill himself before killing the detective and wounding another deputy.