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Here is the pre-session alert from GOUtah!

Charles Hardy
Public Policy Director

(Gun Owners of Utah)

Utah's Uncompromising Independent Gun Rights Network.
No Surrender. No Retreat. Not Now. Not Ever.

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GOUtah! Alert #279 – 2 January 2008

Today’s Maxim of Liberty:

"The secret of happiness is freedom, and the secret of freedom is

-- Thucydides


We really wish that the Utah Legislature would convene only once
every two years instead of annually, given that most legislation is
either unnecessary or counterproductive. But we’re stuck with the
system of having 6 weeks of legislative chaos early each year.

To summarize from our previous alert, our main concern this year is
the number of bills designed to elevate various minor offenses to
felony status. A felony conviction makes a person permanently
ineligible to possess firearms under federal law, even if his felony
was non-violent and even if nobody was actually harmed by his crime.
We read recently of an incident that occurred in southern Utah in
March of 2007, in which a Hurricane resident named Danny Dutton used
a gun to shoot a violent intruder who had broken into his apartment.
The local authorities concluded that Mr. Dutton’s act was a perfectly
legal case of self-defense. Unfortunately, the federal authorities
noticed that Mr. Dutton had a felony conviction on his record because
he had once been caught growing marijuana. So Mr. Dutton is now
being prosecuted in federal court on charges of being “a felon in
possession of a firearm”, which could land him in federal prison for
several years. While GOUtah! does not condone the illegal
cultivation of marijuana, we do not believe that such an act should
result in the automatic and permanent revocation of one’s
constitutional right to possess a firearm.
This year there will be several penalty-enhancement bills, including
one that will make it a felony to mistreat animals. While we
certainly oppose the mistreatment of animals, the “animal torture”
bill could felonize a number of relatively minor and unintentional
acts. We haven’t seen the text yet, but we suspect that this will be
the case. Some of the “animal-torture” bills from previous years
(none of which have passed) would have felonized such acts as
inadvertently leaving a puddle of antifreeze on the ground which
results in the poisoning of an animal. Again, we don’t condone such
irresponsible acts. But we don’t think they should result in a
permanent nullification of a person’s gun rights.

We need to remind our legislators that any bill that elevates a
misdemeanor to a felony is a gun-control bill, because it would
automatically strip an individual of his gun rights.

At the end of this alert is a pre-written letter. We suggest that
you copy it and send it to your State Representative and your State
Senator, or compose your own letter if you wish.

To find complete contact info for your state senator and state
representative, including home mailing addresses, go to http:// and click on “Legislative Contacts” in the left-
hand column. A letter written on paper and sent via U.S. mail is the
best way to go for this sort of thing, especially at this time of
year when the legislature is not yet in session. But an e-mail is
better than nothing.

Letters to your State Senator and State Representative can be sent at
this time either to their home mailing addresses or to the State
Capitol. Since the Legislature is not yet in session, a letter to a
legislator’s home mailing address may reach him sooner.

Here is the Capitol Hill contact info for the Senate and House:

[your senator’s name goes here]
Utah State Senate
320 State Capitol
P.O. Box 145115
Salt Lake City, Utah 84114
Phone: 801-538-1035
Fax for Republican senators: 801-326-1475
Fax for Democratic senators: 801-326-1476

[your representative’s name goes here]
Utah State House of Representatives
350 N. State Street, Suite 350
Salt Lake City, UT 84114
Phone 801-538-1029
fax for Republican representatives: 801-326-1544
fax for Democratic representatives: 801-326-1539

We encourage you to send letters now, while legislators are gearing
up for the session, which starts in mid-January.

That concludes GOUtah! Alert #279 – 2 January 2008.
Copyright 2007 by GOUtah!. All rights reserved.


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Dear ________________________:

As a gun owner and voter living in your district, I encourage you to
oppose any legislation during the upcoming 2008 General Session that
could have the effect of elevating a misdemeanor to felony status.
Federal law permanently strips a citizen of his right to possess a
firearm if he has any sort of felony record, even if his felony was
non-violent, and even if nobody was harmed by his actions.

When Congress passed this law in 1968, it was aimed at murderers,
rapists, robbers, and other truly dangerous criminals who constituted
the bulk of convicted felons at the time. Nowadays, all sorts of
minor acts can result in a felony conviction, which in turn
automatically results in a permanent loss of one’s gun rights.
Martha Stewart was convicted of a felony several years ago for having
allegedly told a fib to a federal investigator regarding a
questionable stock trade. She’s now permanently barred from even
touching a firearm. While I don’t condone Ms. Stewart’s actions, I
don’t see why she should be permanently prohibited from having a self-
defense weapon.

By the same token, the Utah Legislature annually considers several
bills that would confer felony status on relatively minor offenses.
Until the federal gun laws get changed, I will view any such
legislation as a form of back-door gun control, and I encourage you
to oppose it. Thanks for your attention to this matter.


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