Bill proposes to ban domestic violence perpetrators from owning or possessing guns

Guns 01


Commit domestic violence in Utah and lose your right to possess or own a firearm forever.

A new bill on Utah’s Capitol Hill from Rep. Sue Duckworth, D-Salt Lake City,  imposes a lifetime ban on owning or possessing firearms if someone is convicted of domestic violence. The bill also enhances the penalty if a gun is involved in the commission of domestic violence.

Duckworth says HB332 simply brings the state in line with federal law which already prohibits owning or possessing a firearm for anyone who is convicted of domestic violence. This bill essentially brings Utah law in line with the federal statute.

“Domestic violence is growing in our state,” said Duckworth. “We need to keep guns out of the hands of those who have a history of this kind of violence.”

If passed, a person convicted of domestic violence would have 72 hours to convince a judge that they’ve either disposed of or surrendered their guns or ammunition. .

The federal prohibition on firearm ownership for domestic violence convictions, also known as the “Lautenberg Amendment” was passed by Congress in 1996. It bans possession and use of guns or ammunition by those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence or those who are subject to a protective order for domestic violence. The statute also blocks the sale of firearms to such people.

Duckworth’s bill also requires the Bureau of Criminal Identification to inform local law enforcement if a person who is barred from owning a gun because of domestic violence tries to buy a gun from a dealer. A required background check would flag the purchase attempt. BCI has 30 minutes to inform law enforcement of the illegal purchase attempt.

Gun rights activist Jeremy Roberts assisted Duckworth in the drafting of the bill. He calls it a common-sense solution to combat violence in the community.

“All gun owners recognize the threat to our community isn’t law-abiding citizens,” he said. “We want those who have proven they’re not a ‘good person with a gun’ disarmed. This starts with domestic violence. If you hit your spouse, you’re a danger to our community. Period.”

Duckworth is careful to point out her bill is significantly different than the so-called “red flag” bill from Rep. Steve Handy, R-Layton. His proposal allows a judge to disarm a person who is seen as an “extreme risk” to the community.

“I didn’t want to infringe on a person’s 2nd Amendment rights,” said Duckworth. “We’re disarming people only after due process has run its course.”

Duckworth’s bill also enhances the penalty for a domestic violence incident involving a firearm, raising the offense to a Class A misdemeanor.