Utah lawmakers planning new effort on gun control bill

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A group of Utah lawmakers on Wednesday proposed allowing police to temporarily confiscate guns from people deemed to be a threat to the public and increasing mental health services available at schools as ways to prevent campus violence.

Other measures being considered would penalize parents if their child has easy access to their gun and uses it in a crime and mandate that Utah officials report gun background check information to a national database.

The state regularly reports that information but a lack of a legal requirement allows for occasional lapses, lawmakers said.

The moves were among the recommendations proposed by the Utah Safe Schools Commission, several of which could ignite resistance in the state with strong support for gun rights.

Lawmakers last year rejected a previous version of the so-called “red flag” bill allowing police to take guns from certain people amid opposition by gun rights groups including the National Rifle Association.

Opponents say it would allow authorities to deprive gun owners of their Second Amendment rights without adequate due process.

“It’s very dangerous. It’s not a workable solution,” said Sam Robinson, 44, co-owner of Utah Gun Exchange. “We need to protect our Constitution because our Constitution is designed to protect us.”

The commission was created in the wake of the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida, earlier this year. It’s comprised of state officials, students and a gun rights advocate.

“There isn’t a silver bullet when we talk about how our schools and our students are safe,” House Speaker Greg Hughes, a Republican, said at the unveiling of the recommendations.

Hughes and other lawmakers called for Republican Gov. Gary Herbert to convene a special session to consider some of the measures. Without the session, lawmakers would need to wait until their next session in 2019 to take any action.

Herbert spokesman Paul Edwards said the governor was reviewing the recommendations and would consider calling a special session if the state House and Senate can reach consensus.

Last month, Herbert said he was open to the possibility of potential gun measures, including more rigorous background checks.

Republican Rep. Steve Handy, who sponsored the failed “red flag” effort earlier this year, said it was necessary to fill a gap in the law so police could temporarily take guns from people who make broad, generalized threats.

Current law only allows police to intervene in cases where an individual reports feeling specifically threatened but not “for an individual making comments about the masses,” Handy said.

Handy said the legislative calendar earlier this year did not allow for enough time to properly modify the previous bill before it was rejected.

Similar laws have been debated in several states.

Teenage activists involved with the March For Our Lives campaign called Wednesday’s efforts a good but limited first step to halting school gun violence.

“This encourages us to have more of a dialogue,” said high school student Daud Mumin, 17.

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