As the Utah legislature returns to Salt Lake City for the start of the 2022 legislative session, lawmakers will again have the opportunity to pass common-sense gun safety bills. Gun violence prevention is more important than ever in the new year as the pandemic continues to exacerbate gun violence and after a year of increased gun sales, increased risk of suicide and domestic violence, and an increase in city gun violence. In 2021, there were 95 homicides in Utah — making it the second highest year in history.
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 year, lawmakers should learn from their past mistakes 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 unientienonal shootings, secure firearm storage is more imporant 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.
What to know about gun violence in Utah:
- In Utah, on average, 388 people are shot and killed with a gun every year, and 329 more are wounded.
- Firearms are the second-leading cause of death for children and teens in Utah. 75% of all gun deaths among children and teens are suicides.
- Gun violence costs Utah $2.4 billion each year, of which $47.5 million is paid by taxpayers.
If you have questions, or to request an interview with a volunteer from Utah Moms Demand Action, please don’t hesitate to reach out.