Well, you figured this was going to happen: A bill has been introduced by a GOP legislator aimed at stopping Democratic Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson from requiring universal background checks on gun purchases in all county facilities.
Rep. Cory Maloy, R-Lehi, has HB271, which says that the Legislature has TOTAL control of gun rights/law in the state.
Maloy told UtahPolicy.com that the bill has been in the works for a year. “I would have run it last year, but it was not finished in time.”
But because of Wilson’s action, he did add a part specifically referring to gun sales by private persons at gun shows to stop her.
The bill goes even further than Wilson, however. It specifically says that no public university or college can control guns — and there was a large fight several years ago when the University of Utah tried to restrict gun-toting on its property.
And it attempts to penalize any government official and/or government agency that tries in any way to control gun sales, or what kind of guns are permitted in its jurisdiction.
Wilson announced several months ago that there would be universal background checks at all county-owned/operated facilities.
And the county’s South Towne Convention Center in Sandy often hosts gun shows, including several that are among the largest in the U.S.
Wilson was not in her office Friday, and so has no comment.
Current federal law says there are background checks, including at gun shows, by licensed federal arms dealers.
But it is common for regular gun owners — who don’t carry such licenses — to go to gun shows with their own or friends’ guns and try to sell them in person-to-person exchanges with potential buyers. Those private sales don’t require a background check, as Wilson desires.
Maloy’s bill makes it clear that when it comes to 2nd Amendment rights, the Legislature alone will be the governing power.
Part of the bill reads:
“ the Legislature occupies the whole field of state 75 regulation of firearms and ammunition.”
It goes on to say that no “local authority” may control guns — i.e. Salt Lake County government.
Adding, that no local government can control guns in any private or public place, i.e. the South Towne Center.
Thus it appears, if passed, to stop Wilson from trying to extend the background checks to personal sales in gun shows.
The bill allows a private person to sue the government agency that “violated” his 2nd Amendment rights, and give the offended gun owner three-times the damages that he would otherwise receive for that violation, it requires the government to pay his attorneys fees and court costs.
Even more, the bill places a $500 fine for each day the entity should have known it was violating Maloy’s bill — the money going to the state’s General Fund.
The bill says the local government can’t, in any court case, even pled that it was acting in good faith or under the advice of its own attorneys.
And it says public money can’t be spent in defending the public official who violated Maloy’s law.
So, the Salt Lake County Attorney couldn’t defend Wilson and her executive order, she would have to pay for her own attorneys.
And Maloy says the offending public entity can’t claim immunity under the normal government immunity laws.
Maloy said that there is a history of some local Utah governments trying to control firearm/ammunition sales. That’s why he started drafting the bill last year.
But Wilson’s action late last year only adds to the need for action now.