CRIME, POLICE + COURTS

Sponsor of “red flag bill” unsure if he’ll try to advance bill again

Aug 5, 2019, 1:32 PM | Updated: 2:14 pm
red flag gun laws...
(Photo: Stephen Handy, file 2018. Credit: Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)
(Photo: Stephen Handy, file 2018. Credit: Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)

UTAH STATE CAPITOL – President Trump is calling on both sides of the political aisle to come up with solutions to prevent mass shootings, like the ones in Texas and Ohio.  He’s also showing support for red flag laws that would temporarily take guns away from someone who is deemed a public safety risk.  However, the lawmaker who tried to pass a similar law in Utah last session isn’t sure if he’ll do it again.

The bill, HB 209, has been refiled according to the bill’s sponsor, Representative Stephen Handy.  That doesn’t necessarily mean he’s going to try and advance it.  He tells KSL there are a few things that need to happen before he makes that decision.

The biggest opposition came from gun-rights supporters, who saw big constitutional challenges from this bill.  Handy says he’s spoken to many of them who believed the bill was intended to strip someone of their right to protect themselves, even though they hadn’t actually committed any crime.  Handy says there are over a dozen other states that have similar laws.

“None of them have ever been overturned on a constitutional challenge to the Second Amendment,” he says.

Still, he says he’ll need to “read the room” during the next legislative session to see if his bill would have the support of the public and his fellow legislators.

Handy says, “I would hope that others think of that and think, ‘You know what?  The President is wanting to take a look at this.’”

He also says if his bill needs to be changed, he hopes he can work with gun rights advocates to make the kind of changes that all sides can live with.

“We’re looking for a workable way with Second Amendment advocates, and I’m a Second Amendment advocate, but the advocates who just see this as a ‘gun grab,’” Handy says, adding, “Is this the policy that the public will support and [one] that we could come to a compromise?”

Handy tells the Deseret News that the opposition to his bill was so “withering,” he hasn’t had much of an appetite to bring it back.

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Sponsor of “red flag bill” unsure if he’ll try to advance bill again