While the mass murder – with 59 dead – in neighboring Las Vegas has Utah leaders calling for prayers and aid for the victims and their families, don’t look for any Utah state action directly related to the killings.
In fact, it has taken vetoes and the threat of vetoes by GOP Gov. Gary Herbert to stop recent state Legislatures from liberalizing – instead of placing greater controls on – state gun laws.
When several local cities tried years ago to adopt stricter gun regulations, the Legislature passed a law saying only it could control guns in Utah.
Thus, if there is any attempt at gun control, it must come through lawmakers and the governor.
But don’t expect that, says House Minority Leader Brian King, D-Salt Lake.
In fact, King doesn’t necessarily see even Democrats trying much in the way of gun control – because nothing would pass.
“The political climate is what it is,” King told UtahPolicy.
“There’s not a lot we (as minority Democrats) can do to change the gun control paradigm.
“We can talk about the horrific mass shootings, the high power capacity” of some military-like firearms legally purchased and held, “but if they were legally obtained,” then there won’t be much argument in the Utah Legislature to make them illegal.
House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper, said there’s no way a state or federal government could take away the 300 million guns now owned by Americans.
And even his liberal friends wouldn’t want to see the kind of government that could do so – even if there weren’t 2ndAmendment rights, he added.
“I’m focused on the humanity we saw and are seeing,” said Hughes – how good people worked together to help those injured, how first responders put themselves in danger.
“This (murderer) could have passed any (weapon’s purchase) background check,” said Hughes.
And there were no indications – as now known – that would have predicted he would do something like this, Hughes added.
Where does that leave the gun control arguments? He asks.
Several years ago Republican lawmakers passed a bill that would have allowed any adult who could legally own a gun to carry that weapon concealed – so Utah wouldn’t have to have a concealed weapons permit for that.
Some surrounding states already have what is known as “constitutional carry” laws.
But Herbert vetoed it (and in previous years threatened to veto it to stop it). Lawmakers didn’t override that veto.
Herbert’s office did not offer a comment when UtahPolicy asked if any kind of additional gun control is needed in Utah.