One gun bill advances, another stopped in Legislature
February 4th, 2011 @ 8:17pm
SALT LAKE CITY -- A bill that would drop the "no gun" border around schools is one step closer to becoming law Friday, just as another gun-related bill died.

Guns could be carried openly around the perimeter of public and private schools under H.B. 75, sponsored by Rep. Curt Oda, R-Clearfield, as long as the carrier remained off school property. The bill narrowly passed committee 5-4.

The problem, Oda says, is that some schools, such as those in strip malls, are not easily identifiable. The bill would reduce the creation of "inadvertent criminals" who aren't aware they're in close proximity of a school, he said.

Gun Violence Prevention Center board member Steven Gunn testified in the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice committee about the danger for students and difficulty for law enforcement the bill would cause.

"A statute like this presents enormous problems," he said.

Rep. Keith Grover, R-Provo, expressed doubt that the bill would cause any real danger.

One of the bill's ‘no' votes came from Rep. David Litvack, D-Salt Lake, who expressed concern over students and others possibly becoming fearful if they saw a gun being carried openly around their school.

Just as the open-carry amendments are getting off the ground, a bill that would ban innkeepers from denying gun-carriers lodging is not going any further. According to Sen. Stephen Sandstrom, R-Orem, the bill's sponsor, it has been halted despite an overnight plea to members of the Utah Shooting Sports Council to press lawmakers to bring the bill back for another vote.

House Bill 223 was defeated Thursday by a 22-48 vote in the House Thursday after a debate that pitted property rights against Second Amendment rights. Sandstrom said he will not pursue bringing the bill back for another vote because of the "sheer opposition."

Still, some guns rights advocates believe it will eventually become law anyway.

Clark Aposhian with the Utah Shooting Sports Council says this is not about property rights and that the decision is inconsistent with Utah Code. He said state law allows someone to keep a gun in a temporary residence.

"When I sign on the dotted line for that hotel room, that's my hotel room. If you are with law enforcement you have to have a warrant to search it," Apshian said.

Aposhian also believes the Second Amendment would side with gun owners. He said this may have to be decided in the courts.


Story written with contributions from Amanda Verzello and Cleon Wall.