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Richard Piatt ReportingUtah lawmakers are getting ready to shoot down a proposal to require safe storage of guns, for the 12th year in a row. But this time a member of the majority opposed to that bill acknowledged Utah needs to address accidental shootings involving children.
A lot of gun owners fear bills like this are the first step toward gun control. But some lawmakers say the public is demanding the Legislature address gun safety somehow because of gun-related accidents.
The question is mandating safe gun storage. Such a law might have helped last September in South Jordan when a 12 year old accidentally shot his 14-year old friend. But it might not have helped two months later in West Valley City, when a four-year old boy found a key and unlocked a gun without permission and killed his three year old brother.
Such sticky questions are leading to the defeat of Senator Paula Julander's Safe Storage bill. But for the 12th year in a row there was passionate encouragement for it to pass.
Marla Kennedy, Gun Violence Prevention Center: "We're saying once you have the second amendment right and choose to own it that there are responsibilities with the storage, when it is around a child, that you must take."
At the same time, gun owners resist, saying such laws are a precursor to gun control. And they have a suggestion.
John Spangler, Utah Shooting Sports Council: "Existing laws already allow prosecution of people in places where kids could hurt themselves."
Janalee Tobias, Women Against Gun Control: “They should mandate gun safety education in the schools.”
In fact, gun owners may be called upon to help address the issue in the future. Chairman of this Senate Committee says this bill may not pass, but acknowledges that public opinion may require the Legislature to take on gun safety in the future.
Sen. Greg Bell, (R) Fruit Heights: "There are a lot of accidents with children, and I think the public is going to demand some kind of governmental imposition if we don't see a change."
Committee members put off a final vote on the bill, holding it because debate over it was cut short. But that could be putting off the inevitable – rejection for the 13th year in a row.