SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) – It’s called “Lauren’s law,” designed to help victims of violence.
A state lawmaker is planning on introducing the proposal at the upcoming session of the legislature.
Newly elected Rep. Andrew Stoddard of Murray said he campaigned on helping victims of domestic violence and said this proposed bill is part of his promise to voters.
“Unfortunately Lauren’s death, tragedy that it was, kind of inspired this law,” said Rep. Stoddard. “And I wanted to do something to be able to hold gun owners responsible when they loan out their gun and it’s used for, to commit a violent offense.”
McCluskey was shot to death by a man who because of his criminal past couldn’t possess a weapon.
But police said a friend gave Melvin Rowland the gun he used to murder McCluskey in October.
The friend told police Rowland was going to use it for target practice.
Instead, police said Rowland, a former boyfriend, stalked McCluskey and shot her on campus. Friends said Rowland lied about his criminal past and McCluskey wanted to break off their relationship.
Rep. Stoddard said he hasn’t worked out details about “Lauren’s law” but it will deal only with civil liability and not tamper with criminal law.
“A lot of what I wanted to accomplish would be, to be an education tool,” he said. “I wanted gun owners to think twice before they hand their gun out to somebody.”
But Clark Aphosian with the Utah Sports Shooting Council said said there are current laws in the books that deal with civil and criminal liability when one transfers a weapon.
“You’re criminally and civilly liable if you comitt a crime not for because you’ve been tricked into selling an item that they later use in a crime,” Aphosian said.
He said the bill isn’t necessary but what is important for police departments to do their job and prevent crimes like McCluskey’s murder.
“Someone dropped the ball,” Aphosian said.
But Stoddard said this proposal would streamline the current law to make it easier for families to sue a responsible person.
Last month, McCluskey’s mother showed support for prosecuting the person who gave Rowland the gun.
She tweeted “the person who lent Lauren’s killer the gun needs to be prosecuted. It is a great responsibility to own a gun.”