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Rep. Stephen Handy receiving threats over gun control bill

SALT LAKE CITY — Representative Stephen Handy, R-Layton, told KSL NewsRadio’s Jay McFarland that he has received multiple threats over social media for proposing a bill that would restrict dangerous persons’ access to to firearms.

Handy said one internet user told him he ought to be hung, and two others claimed they were contacting their county sheriffs to arrest Handy for attempting to violate their constitutional rights.

“I don’t want to make too much of this, but people are pretty excised over it,” Handy told McFarland on Tuesday’s episode of The JayMac News Show. “I’ve heard some pretty disconcerting things.”

H.B. 209, titled “Extreme Risk Protective Orders,” would allow family members and law enforcement to petition the courts to temporarily restrict someone’s access to firearms if they are determined to be a danger to themselves or others. While new numbers from The Hinckley Institute of Politics and the Salt Lake Tribune show that 68% of Utahans support laws allowing for ERPOs, Handy’s opponents have been outspoken in their beliefs that such a law would violate several of their constitutional rights. Handy said his detractors have been particularly vicious online.

“I don’t get paid enough to take this kind of abuse,” he told McFarland, laughing.

McFarland responded with concerns about respect for the democratic process.

“It’s okay to disagree and it’s certainly okay to fight for what you think are your constitutional rights, but it’s important that we do it with respect for disagreement,” McFarland said. “Disagreement should be healthy. It should be something that we treasure because in disagreement and honest discussion it makes us all better, or it should.”

Handy agreed, and encouraged Utahns to contact both him and their own representatives.

“Look, I’m a reasonable person. I’m trying just to do what I think the right thing to do to be reasonable is here,” Handy said. “Read the bill, and then if you have better suggestions, come back. Let’s find a way. Let’s find a middle ground here.”

But as for “the meanness and the vitriol?” Handy’s response was simple:

“Tone it down, folks.”

The JayMac News Show will continue to cover Representative Handy’s bill as it moves through the legislative process. You can join the conversation online by using #gunwatch or by getting text updates about the bill if you text GUNS to 57500.