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Gun debate sparks several bills in Utah Legislature

By Richard Piatt | Posted - Feb 20th, 2013 @ 5:49pm



SALT LAKE CITY — Lawmakers heard several separate bills about guns and gun control Wednesday, and three bills in particular are getting attention.

HB76 would allow any adult over the age of 21 to carry a concealed weapon with or without a permit. The bill passed the House Judiciary Committee 7-2.

HB114 declares the firearm regulation is "reserved completely to the state" and would penalize anyone attempting to enforce federal law. HB268 would keep police officers from charging a person with disorderly conduct just for carrying a weapon in public without other disorderly behaviors. Both bills will be reviewed by the House Judiciary Committee on Friday.

Pro-gun support overshadowed voices like Monica Bennenger of Utah Parents Against Gun Violence, who says more guns are not the way to make people concerned with violence feel safe.

"They are a weapon. They do pose a public threat to others, whether it's intentional or not," Bellenger said.

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Michael Fidler was one of many in the audience who supported all the gun bills proposed Wednesday. Openly displaying a 9 mm handgun, 18-year-old Fidler came to the Capitol to support his right to bear arms.

"It's my right to carry a firearm and to be able to defend myself and others around me," Fidler said.

Supporter Matthew Chappel openly carried an unloaded rifle, but fellow Second Amendment supporter Dennis Kennedy thinks the open display is counter-productive.

"I think a lot of unknowledgeable people don't know that it's legal for people to carry firearms openly in Utah; that doesn't mean it's appropriate in all cases," Kennedy said.

Siri Davidson and her five kids made the trip from Salem to hear the bills. Fighting violence doesn't mean taking rights away, she said.

"If there's no guns, they'll find a knife. If there's no knife they'll find a rock," Davidson said. "Bad guys don't stop."

Other weapons-related bills proposed during this Legislative session include HB317, which prohibits the sharing of concealed firearm permit information with the federal government and makes disclosing or sharing concealed firearm permit information a third-degree felony; HB211, which modifies the requirements for issuing and renewing a concealed weapon permit for a United States active duty service member and spouse; and HB278, which requires law enforcement to return a firearm in its possession to the legal owner upon proof of ownership.

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