I just got off the phone with Brandon Loomis at the SLTrib. He got a copy of the GOUtah! alert and came looking for some additional information. My thanks to Clark for vectoring him my way.
Brandon said he has spoken to lawyers who were involved with the drafting and they say because the disclosure appears in a section of the initiative dealing with conflicts of public interest, it is not intended to apply to guns.
I responded that I believed that it was nobody’s intent to register guns, and that a judge might actually rule that way. But I could not count on such a ruling and that as I read the black letter of the initiative language, it clearly applied to guns as explained in our alert.
He then suggested the legislature could change some aspects of the law after it was passed by the voters. Again, I conceded this was possible, but I could not count on it happening. I explained that one weakness of an initiative is that it is not subject to the debate and amendments that are normally available to “perfect” (to use parliamentary language) legislation. I said, “I really wish there was nothing in this initiative that would compel me and GOUtah! to come out in opposition to anything with ‘ethics’ in its title. But this provision is a clear threat to RKBA and so we have to oppose it.”
I emphasized we had a three pronged concern with the initiative language relative to RKBA:
1-The disclosure provisions clearly seem to apply to privately owned guns and constitute gun registration and public disclosure of privately owned guns;
2-The felony penalty for every mistake on a disclosure could result in a lifetime ban on RKBA over non-material, unintentional, technical errors. I explained that there are proper methods for penalizing mistakes on disclosures, but to impose the heavy hammer of felony with lifetime loss of RKBA for every mistake, no matter how small or unintentional was going too far and would drive away good men and women from service. This leads to our third concern;
3-The combination of disclosure requirements on personal guns, as well as potential lifetime loss of RKBA for technical, non-material, and unintentional mistakes, errors or omissions on disclosures serves to greatly discourage pro-RKBA members of the community from being willing to serve in the legislature. We are as concerned about this as teachers, cops, ranchers, and others would be if members of their community were heavily discouraged from serving.
I made clear that GOUtah! takes no position on the 99% of the initiative that doesn’t directly affect RKBA. We are single issue and doubtless have members who would support this initiative save for the anti-RKBA portions; we have other members who would oppose aspects of the initiative in addition to the portion dealing with guns.
We’ll see how the write up turns out. Let me know if you see it in the SLTribune in the next few days.