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Utah House talks about 'gun day' to address related bills

By Richard Piatt | Posted - Feb 11th, 2013 @ 7:06pm

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SALT LAKE CITY — Recent mass shootings have renewed the national debate over guns, whether to regulate, restrict or reaffirm access to guns.

For some, Utah lawmakers aren't doing enough to address gun violence. However, it's a feeling that gun owners' rights are in danger that is driving many of the bills presented in the Utah Legislature this year.

"We're not against the Second Amendment by any means, but we believe there is room for reasonable regulation of guns here in Utah," said Isaak Holyoak with Alliance for a Better Utah.

Monday, lawmakers in the Utah House spoke about a "gun day" where a list of gun bills would be unveiled all at once. None of them seem to be a threat to the Second Amendment. In fact, it looks like just the opposite.

Two are notable. HB 76 amends the states conceal-carry law to allow gun owners to carry either a loaded or unloaded concealed weapon without a permit. It's the bill that's expected to generate the most heat. The other, HB 114, exerts Utah's authority over the federal government when it comes to gun laws.

Sponsor Rep. Brian Greene, R-Pleasant Grove. said his bill is in response to Statements by President Barack Obama seeking to ban assault rifles and limit access to ammunition after recent shooting tragedies.

"The federal government is trying to capitalize on that by further extending its influence and control into areas that should be left to the states," Greene said.

When it comes to preventing mass shooting tragedies, some Utah lawmakers believe the conversation needs to be about more than just guns.

"What I'm really wanting to have is a discussion is what causes violence to begin with, and once it's caused, how do we deal with the people involved," said House Minority Leader Jennifer Seelig, D-Salt Lake City

There are more bills, mostly in the House, that will possibly be presented over the course of one or two days in committee to limit the distraction this emotional issue can present.

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