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Lawmakers Callously Passed Dangerous Legislation to Weaken Gun Laws Last Year. Now, Utahns Are Faced with the Consequences.

November 22, 2021

Despite the rise in gun violence in 2020, Utah lawmakers callously shoved through legislation to roll back gun laws, including a bill to expand their current “Stand Your Ground” law, a bill to force colleges and universities to allow 18-21 year olds to carry guns on campus, and legislation to gut Utah’s life-saving permitting system, which included vital suicide prevention trainings during the 2021 legislative session. 

In recent weeks, state lawmakers and local business leaders have spoken out about the dangerous repercussions of the bills:

  • KSL reported that the expanded “Stand Your Ground” law creates unintended consequences such as increased gun violence and cost to taxpayers. Rep. Brian King noted that he worries about how it “increases the likelihood of vigilante thinking and vigilante behavior.” 
  • Business leaders are also reporting financial issues after lawmakers passed a permitless carry bill, according to the Salt Lake Tribune
  • Gun safety instructors have seen the number of people taking their firearm safety courses, which are now optional, drop dramatically — leading to more untrained gun owners carrying hidden, loaded firearms in our communities. 

Both the so-called “Stand Your Ground” laws and permitless carry laws bills were championed by Republican lawmakers as bills that would keep communities safe and not change the business or lives of gun safety instructors or law enforcement officers. States with these so-called “Stand Your Ground” laws and permitless carry laws have higher rates of gun violence attached to them and allow an environment that encourages shooting first and asking questions later. “Stand Your Ground” laws also disproportionately impact Black and Latinx communities. 

Recently, the Utah Department of Public Safety released its annual crime statistics for 2020 showing there was 44 percent increase in the number of homicides compared to 2019. In 2020, there were 93 homicides with 67 percent by firearms. It is noted that the statistics from the Utah Department of Public Safety did not record fatal police shootings which would put the number of homicides in 2020 to 103. And, unfortunately, gun violence hasn’t stopped in 2021. According to KSL, there were 69 homicides in Utah as of the beginning of October —  putting it nearly on pace with 2020 homicides. Last session, lawmakers also failed to allot funding for violence intervention programs, utilize ARP funding to help fight gun violence, or pass legislation to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers which would have helped prevent a surge in city gun violence and domestic violence shown in the annual crime stats.

This session, Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action volunteers will work with community partners to get more money allotted for violence intervention programs across the state and pass stronger gun safety laws that are proven to prevent gun violence. 

Every year, nearly 400 people die by guns in Utah and over 300 more are wounded. Gun violence costs Utah $2.4 billion each year, of which $47.5 million is paid by taxpayers. More information about gun violence in the state is available here.

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