SUICIDE PREVENTION

Poll shows Utahns support “red flag” bill

Feb 4, 2019, 7:00 PM | Updated: 7:48 pm
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File: Utah State Capitol

SALT LAKE CITY — There is a lot of debate about the proposed “red flag” bill that would allow police to temporarily take away a person’s gun. A new survey shows over two-thirds of people in this state support it.

The survey from the Hinckley Institute of Politics and the Salt Lake Tribune shows 87 percent of Democrats either “strongly support” or “somewhat support” the bill that would let an officer take a gun if someone in that home is deemed to be a threat to themselves, or to others.  Plus, 57 percent of Republicans showed support for it.

Even though gun rights are strongly connected to the measure, Institute Director Jason Perry says many people they spoke with don’t actually see it as a gun issue.

“This is about preventing suicides more than it is about gun control,” Perry says.

Perry says support for the bill spreads across party and age demographics.

“The overwhelming majority of suicides come through firearms.  That is why Utahns are supportive of this kind of legislation,” he adds.

However, gun rights advocates are questioning how the survey was done.

“We all know, by sad experience, you can’t legislate out of suicide,” Clark Aposhian with the Utah Shooting Sports Council said.

Aposhian says the bill would allow a person to have their property taken away, even though they hadn’t committed a crime.

“What if the process of deeming that person ‘dangerous’ was based on an extremely low evidentiary standard when the person wasn’t allowed to defend themselves?” he asks.

Red flag laws are aimed at reducing the risk of gun violence by taking firearms out of the hands of the people who are at most risk of committing an act of violence, either against themselves or others.

Rep. Stephen Handy, R-Layton, proposed a similar red flag bill in the last legislative session, but it did not pass.

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Poll shows Utahns support “red flag” bill