Once again, the gun lobby is attempting to force Permitless Concealed Carry (HB 112) through our state house. They want anyone to be able to carry a hidden gun in our public spaces with no permit, no background check, and no training requirements. This is not the Utah our children and families deserve.

In 2016 alone, 1,586 concealed carry weapon permits were denied in Utah,1,630 were revoked, and 365 were suspended. This is a law that is working, so why would we get rid of it?!

It's incredibly important that your Utah representative hear from you today. A hearing for this bill is scheduled for as early as this week. Click here to take action and urge your elected officials to oppose HB 112!

Sincerely,

Nancy Farrar Halden, GVPC

P.S. Please pass along this website to your family and friends. We need as many Utah voices as possible to speak out against this reckless proposal!

 

Stop Permitless Carry

The gun lobby wants to allow anyone to carry a hidden gun in our public spaces with no permit, no background check, and no training - urge your elected officials to vote no on HB 112!

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Tell Rep. Bishop and Rep. Love Not to Undercut Utah Law

This OpEd appeared in the Salt Lake Tribune March 25, 2017

Written by Ed Rutan and Gary Sackett, GVPC Board Members

Currently before the U.S. House of Representatives is the Concealed Carry Reci­procity Act of 2017 (H.R. 38), which would require every state, including Utah, to allow a person from another state to carry a concealed firearm while visiting, even if the home state doesn't require its own citizens to get a permit by completing an education program and a background check—and there are at least 10 such states.  This dangerous, lowest-common-denominator approach has significant public safety consequences for Utah citizens, because it lowers the bar set by the Utah Legislature to require out-of-state visitors to have a concealed-carry permit from another state.  Utah has long required completion of a background check and an education program be­fore issuing a permit.  H.R. 38 would override Utah’s minimal safety requirement for visitors from states that do not require a permit.

Representatives Rob Bishop and Mia Love are co-sponsors of this federal mandate to permit visitors, who as Utah citizens would not be allowed to carry a concealed weapon in Utah, to do just that.  The ironic twist is that these erstwhile champions of states’ rights conveniently lay aside their principles when it comes to the proli­feration of dangerous weapons and support of the guns-for-everyone agenda of the gun lobby. 

The bill’s sponsor argues that concealed-carry permits should be like driver licenses.  Yet, there is no federal mandate requiring states to recognize other states’ driver licenses.  Each state’s license is recognized by every other state, because the states have agreed to this recipro­city.  That’s how recognition of concealed-carry permits is handled today—by state action.  But, the gun lobby is pushing this federal bill, because it doesn’t like the permit requirements in states like California and New York. 

H.R. 38’s sponsor also argues that a federal mandate is necessary because concealed-carry permit holders “find it difficult to navigate” state concealed-carry laws.  Actually, it is quite easy for a person to be in compliance.  A Utah permit holder can quickly check which states recognize a Utah permit by going to the Utah Public Safety Department’s website, and other states provide the same convenient service for their citizens.  A state’s interest in public safety is too important to be jettisoned just because firearm owners are not willing to take minimal steps to check whether their permits are recognized in the states they are traveling to.

The bill’s sponsor falsely claims that, “States will still retain their authority to de­ter­mine regulations for carrying within their borders,” but this authority is narrowly lim­ited to allowing private property owners to prohibit concealed weapons on their property and allowing states to restrict possession of firearms on government property.  Beyond that, H.R. 38 would still allow visitors from states that allow permit-less concealed carry safety to roam freely in Utah’s communities.

The provision in H.R. 38 that allows permit-less carry is falsely referred to by the bill’s sponsor as “constitutional carry”—a fundamental misnomer.  There is no Second Amendment right to carry a concealed weapon.  The late, conservative Justice Antonin Scalia—author of  the District of Columbia v. Heller decision—wrote that the individual right to bear arms “was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”  Indeed, Justice Scalia specifically noted that “pro­hibitions on carrying concealed weapons were lawful under the Second Amendment or state analogues.” 

Current Utah law requires a person carrying a concealed weapon at least to have an actual permit from another state before entering Utah.  H.B. 38’s federal mandate would over­ride that very basic, common-sense protection of Utah citizens.

Call, email or write Utah’s congressional delegation and ask them to vote against H.R. 38.

Ed Rutan, retired City Attorney for Salt Lake City, and Gary G. Sackett, a Millcreek attorney, are members of the Board of Directors of the Gun Violence Prevention Center of Utah.

 

Still No Response to My Gun-control Questions

This OpEd appeared in the Salt Lake Tribune July 8, 2017

June 12 marked the one-year anniversary of the Pulse Night Club massacre. The 49 lives taken that night in Orlando composed the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, and the greatest number of LGBTQ casualties in a single hate-inspired act, eclipsing the Upstairs Lounge Fire in New Orleans, which claimed 32 lives on June 24, 1973.

On March 14, I wrote the following letter to my elected officials in Washington: Rep. Chris Stewart and Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee:

"I am continually haunted by the degree of gun violence in our country, and I want to ask you two very specific questions regarding the June 12th, 2016 shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Fla.

1) Do you believe Omar Mateen should have had a gun? 2) Why, if someone is considered dangerous enough to be on the no-fly list (which Omar Mateen was), should they be allowed to purchase firearms? As your constituent, I would appreciate a succinct, straightforward answer to these questions."

It has been over three months, and not one of my congressmen has responded to me. Granted, I would not expect my representatives to see eye to eye with me on gun control, but I would expect them to at least respond to a letter from a constituent.

Upon Googling "Worst U.S. Mass Shootings," Sandy Hook Elementary School and Virginia Tech come up, along with a disturbingly long list of other such gun-perpetrated atrocities. One need only look in our own backyard to find a mass shooting 10 years ago at Trolley Square. But nothing seems to change (the mostly Republican) elected officials' stance on common-sense gun control laws, not Columbine, not Trolley Square, not Virginia Tech, not Charleston, not San Bernardino, not Pulse — not even someone opening fire on Republican congressmen at a congressional baseball practice was enough to prompt members of that party to take action.

In fact, the response was once again that we should have more, not fewer, guns. The majority of Republicans are so beholden to the NRA that they won't even allow debate around the issue during the legislative session, much less respond to their constituents. And, unfortunately, our Utah representatives number among this group.

I don't harbor any delusions that members of Congress read or personally reply to constituent letters. I'm sure they have staffers who take care of that for them. But that is all the more reason that three months without any response seems unreasonable. I'm pretty sure that my Uncle Bob (former Sen. Robert F. Bennett) would have responded to my letter and that we could have engaged in a civil discourse around the issue. But civil discourse seems to be severely lacking in our nation's capital these days.

During this anniversary month of the massacres at Pulse Nightclub and Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., Rep. David N. Cicilline, D-R.I., and Sen. Robert Casey, D-Penn., introduced the Disarm Hate Act to prevent individuals convicted of misdemeanor hate crimes from purchasing guns. I'm wondering if I should bother to write my elected officials asking them to sign on to this bill, or if I might have a greater impact by just choosing to call them out in this op-ed instead.

John Bennett, of Salt Lake City, is a longtime member of Utah's LGBTQ community and a concerned citizen.

 

Today, States United To Prevent Gun Violence introduces “Carrier Or Killer,” the game that gives players seconds to make a life-or-death decision.

We created this game in an effort to demonstrate the real-life consequences of corporate gun lobby measures currently moving through Congress, such as Federally Mandated Concealed Carry. FMCC would further normalize the carrying of deadly weapons in our public spaces and force to states recognize permits for hidden, loaded guns from all fifty states.

More guns in public will only create more confusion among emergency first responders, law enforcement, and bystanders who are forced to decide what the true intentions of gun holders are, and then act. Are these people carrying in the name of “self-defense,” or do they want to kill? How can anyone tell the difference?

Click here to play the game, watch the PSA, and then contact your representatives to demand they act to defeat Federally Mandated Concealed Carry.

Sincerely,

Julia Wyman, Executive Director - States United to Prevent Gun Violence

Wild West rhetoric distracts from gun-violence solutions

This OpEd appeared in the Salt Lake Tribune July 29, 2017

Among many incidents of gun violence this summer, two were particularly disturbing. The first was close to home, when Jeremy Patterson of Draper stalked and killed Memorez Rackley and her son as they walked home from school. Patterson injured two other children and committed suicide. The second is a road-rage killing that took place in Pennsylvania. When David Desper and 18-year-old Bianca Roberson had a conflict while merging into traffic, he shot her in the head from his vehicle. As Roberson's car drifted off the road, Desper fled.

From those who knew these men, we heard the usual descriptions. "He's a great guy. He would not normally do this," said Patterson's sister. "I never saw him as a hothead or in any way a threat to anyone," said Desper's coworker.

A problem with the gun violence debate is that we often see it as an issue of good and evil. "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun." "When guns are outlawed, only outlaws have guns." This "Wild West" rhetoric oversimplifies our modern problem. Both killers mentioned above likely purchased their weapons intending to be the good guy — to protect themselves and their families. Which of us thinks of him/herself as the bad guy? In reality, quick access to a gun allowed their sudden delusions and temper tantrums to have terrible consequences.on after killings like these, and the NRA plays a major role. It has an interest in maintaining this Wild West mentality because it encourages gun ownership. The NRA relies on the notion that society is safer with more armed people. Repeatedly, the opposite has been shown to be true. Utah is no exception. A study from the American Public Health Association analyzed gun ownership and homicide rates in every state from 1981-2010. "We observed a robust correlation between higher levels of gun ownership and higher firearm homicide rates." According to Utah's Department of Health, our youth suicide rate is consistently higher than the national average. From 2012-2014, 46.5 percent were done by firearm, which is the most common method.

To combat statistics like these, the NRA uses fear to promote gun purchases. A recently circulated example is the "Violence of Lies" advertisement with NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch. It depicts the USA as dangerous and divided, with hordes of savages (Berkeley students) on the horizon, ready to dismantle western civilization. Using footage of protesters, she condemns those "screaming racism and sexism and xenophobia and homophobia" as if they are tired and baseless claims. The video ends with a call to "fight this violence of lies with a clenched fist of truth," followed by the NRA logo. Loesch claims this is not a call to arms against certain American citizens, yet fails to explain what guns have do with "truth."

If widespread tension leads to weapon sales, is it unreasonable to suggest the NRA has an interest in division? The defense of constitutional rights and American liberties is an honorable cause, but dividing the nation for the benefit of gun sales is not.

Hopefully we will change the way in which gun violence solutions are determined — with statistics instead of hypothetical scenarios and fear. This is not the Wild West. Killers do not meet the town gunslinger at high noon. They attack without warning, leaving little opportunity for self-defense. Something must be done about frequent gun violence, and more armed "good guys" is not the answer. Desper's legally owned handgun was supposed to be a tool of self-defense. Instead, it served a much more common and cruel purpose. Patterson and Desper were not "outlaws" before committing these atrocities. This type of rhetoric distracts from the evidence. If we can overcome it, we have a better chance to find real solutions.

Sam Adondakis is a college student and an intern with the Alliance for a Better Utah

 

 

The Gun Violence Prevention Center of Utah is a non-profit organization working to end the violence and suffering resulting from the misuse of firearms.

We provide education and promote legislation and policy intended to reduce gun violence.

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