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Utah politicians weigh in on gun debate



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SALT LAKE CITY — The shootings in Connecticut and Oregon last week have taken on a political dynamic, particularly when it comes to gun laws.

The horror of the shootings has the public demanding some sort of action, and elected officials are scrambling to figure out that action might be. So far though, there appears to be very few clear answers.

Utah Sen. Mike Lee's office says the senator wants to wait a week before he discusses the issue.


I don't think it's easy to have a conversation up there. It's more like you're either for guns or against guns, and that's absurd. There are all kinds of things in between that we should be talking about.

–Rep. Carol Spackman Moss, D-Cottonwood Heights


Newly-elected Utah Congressman Chris Stewart simply said, in part, "I don't believe good policy is made in the emotion of such a moment."

On ABC's "This Week," Congressman Jason Chaffetz opened the door to a discussion wider than most politicians will at this point.

"We have to deal with the mental health aspect," he said. "We should talk about the intersection of a lethal weapon and how it relates to mental health. Absolutely, we should have that discussion."

In a phone interview with KSL, Chaffetz called this an issue crying for direction.

"I want to be one of those people who has an open mind and says look, there is a better way to do this," he said.

Utah's famously pro-firearm laws are not likely to be changed in light of these incidents.

"These laws are not going to stop the bad guy," said Rep. Curt Oda, R-Clearfield.

Like Chaffetz, Oda is concerned about the mental health aspect of these shootings, given the common thread between most seems to get down to that.


We have to deal with the mental health aspect. We should talk about the intersection of a lethal weapon and how it relates to mental health. Absolutely, we should have that discussion.

–Congressman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah


"Mental illness for these types of situations has never really been addressed before," he said. "It's about time that discussion started."

Rep. Carol Spackman Moss, D-Cottonwood Heights, is among those asking for a much wider discussion. She says in the past, it hasn't happened.

"I don't think it's easy to have a conversation up there," she said. "It's more like you're either for guns or against guns, and that's absurd. There are all kinds of things in between that we should be talking about."

There are several gun-related laws in the cue this next session. One addresses access to gun ranges, the other keeps people from being charged with disorderly conduct simply for carrying a firearm.

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Richard Piatt

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