Utah lawmakers are quickly advancing SB 115, an extreme proposal that would tie the hands of local Utah officials by further prohibiting them from taking steps to prevent gun violence in their communities. The bill also doesn’t allow local authorities to decide what is best for their communities. Lawmakers have the opportunity to stop the legislation in the House Judiciary Committee on Friday.
This legislation isn’t the first time lawmakers have tried to pass measures to tie the hands of local Utah officials. In 2020, a similar bill was introduced, but failed to move through the legislature. The legislation was also opposed by law enforcement, gun violence survivors, and city leaders due to the limiting nature of the bill for local authorities.
Utah already has a law that prevents counties, municipalities and local officials from creating local laws or rules that regulate firearms in almost any way. This bill would unnecessarily expand that law and line the pockets of gun lobby executives outside of Utah with lawsuits against already ailing Utah cities. Moms Demand Action volunteers and supporters in Utah have sent over 100 emails to lawmakers urging them to oppose SB 115. Every year, gun violence costs Utah $2.4 billion, of which $47.5 million is paid by taxpayers – and this law could potentially increase that number.
Last year, lawmakers in Utah passed dangerous gun bills to expand guns on campus, a racist, risky Stand Your Ground or Shoot First law, and a bill to gut the permitting system and roll back suicide prevention training — despite Utah having the eighth highest rate of gun suicide in the country. In the months since then, Utah lawmakers and business owners revealed the rise in gun violence and their loss in wages as the consequences of these reckless policies. In fact, a recent Associated Press piece revealed that one business owner’s firearm training classes had dropped dramatically making him cancel several classes.
This session, lawmakers should learn from previous years and prioritize the safety of children and schools and advance legislation to make sure that firearms are securely stored when not in use. After a year of increased instances of gun violence on school grounds, gun suicide among children, and unintentional shootings, secure firearm storage is more important than ever. Lawmakers should also pass legislation to disarm domestic abusers and create a State Office of Gun Violence Prevention to support violence intervention programs and reduce suicide deaths. More information about gun violence in Utah is available here.