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Access to firearms a concern in domestic violence cases

Posted - Mar. 1, 2017 at 2:21 p.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY — House Minority Leader Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, stressed the importance of his work with activists on both sides of gun rights issues as he presented a bill to bar people with domestic violence convictions or protective orders against them from possessing firearms.

King said HB206 would align Utah law with existing federal law.

"It is a crime under federal law currently, but what you see is it is unenforced," he said.

King's bill received unanimous support from the Senate Judiciary Committee during a hearing Wednesday. HB206 previously received unanimous support in the House and now advances to the full Senate for its consideration.

Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, said enforcement at the state level would be preferable to continued reliance on federal law.

Erin Jemison, a public policy director with YWCA Utah, spoke in support of the bill.

"Our very first question when we meet with someone is: 'Does the perpetrator have access to a firearm,'" she said.

Jemison said she regularly works with women fleeing domestic violence situations, and they often fear firearm-related harm.

Ty Finch, a spokeswoman for the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition, also spoke in favor of the bill.

Finch said 42 percent of Utah's gun violence comes from domestic situations.

"We hope to keep people safe and lower the rate of domestic violence here in Utah," she said.

— Ryan Morgan

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