For the second time in two years, a so-called “red flag” bill – aimed at getting guns away from troubled, violent people quickly – is dead in the Utah Legislature.
Sponsor Rep. Steve Handy, R-Layton, said his HB209 will not come out of House Rules and is finished. There are only two weeks left in the session.
And another gun bill is in serious trouble.
Monday, the House Rules Committee voted to hold HB418, universal background checks for gun purchases sponsored by House Minority Leader Brian King, D-Salt Lake.
All the Republicans on Rules voted to hold the bill, which likely kills it.
“We worked hard. We talked to a lot of people. But the votes aren’t there” in the House Republican caucus, Handy told UtahPolicy.com Monday morning.
The term “red flag” comes about through a troubled person’s behavior and/or statements – with a family member being able to go quickly to a judge and get an ex parte order to take firearms away from the troubled person.
One of the big sticking points was the crucial element of HB209 – a judge issuing an order to take the person’s guns without that person being at a court hearing.
Previously, Handy told UtahPolicy that it makes no sense to have the troubled person attend a hearing about his guns, for he could kill himself or another person he’s making threats against before the hearing.
Handy portrayed his bill as a suicide prevention measure, saying most of the successful suicides in Utah come with hand guns, usually owned by the victim.
Utah is making a big anti-suicide push, especially among teenagers.
But Handy ran up against the tradition gun rights lobby, and votes in the House over a separate resolution calling for no changes to Utah gun laws – and upholding the 2nd Amendment.
Also, GOP Gov. Gary Herbert that he doesn’t believe Utah needs to change its current gun laws.
“We talked about” HB209 “for weeks behind the scenes,” said Handy. “And finally leadership said it was time for me to move on” with other bills he’s carrying this session. The support for it was not there.
Handy said he plans on working the “red flag” issue over the interim and bring the matter back in the 2020 Legislature.