SLC students & gun rights advocates debate reform

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (News4Utah) – A panel of six students hosted a forum to discuss their goals for gun reform legislation they want to see passed at the state and national level. Gun rights advocates were also on hand to challenge some of their points and discuss the issues.

The students were hosting the event as a follow-up to the national school walkout. Those in favor of gun reform want to keep the issue fresh in people’s minds so it doesn’t get lost in current events.

The group has six main goals which include universal background checks, a limit on the size of gun magazines, a ban on assault-style weapons like AR-15s, raising age to buy a gun to 21, a mandatory waiting period, and a “Red Flag” law allowing law enforcement to temporarily take guns away from people deemed a threat to themselves or others.

Although some in the audience pushed back on the ideas claiming they wouldn’t have the intended impact. They also pointed out that Utah’s background check rules are stricter than the federal standard. Rep. Karianne Lisonbee (R-Clearfield) was on hand to ask questions of the students. She pointed out that Utah’s system also does checks every 24 hours to make sure no one has lost their eligibility to own a firearm.

“It runs my name and my information through the system to make sure I haven’t committed any crimes, to make sure I haven’t had a protective order put against myself,” said Rep. Lisonbee.

Clark Aposhian who is Chairman of Utah Shooting Sports Council noted an increased background check system may not be effective. That’s because several high-profile cases have shown people who shouldn’t have been able to buy guns slipped through the cracks.

“Run the database appropriately, but don’t come to us and ask for stricter firearm laws until they fix what’s in their own house first,” said Aposhian.

Students said the background check system should be fixed and universal. They hope by checking people’s backgrounds and having a waiting period, it could prevent mistakes from being made.

Panel members like Maren Moffatt said the reason they are pushing for federal reform is to have the rules the same in every state. They cited statistics showing gun reform laws working in some areas. Although they admitted it’s hard to know how well it works because laws differ form state to state.

“When there is only a patch work gun control laws, and states don’t agree with each other it can cause some issues especially with purchasing guns in other states,” said Moffatt.

The students and gun rights advocates didn’t agree on much, but kept their conversations respectful. All sides were seen talking after the event.

Aposhian said he did appreciate the students talking about “Red Flag” laws which was brought up, but ultimately failed during the last Utah Legislative session.

“I was heartened that they talked about the Red fFag law,” said Aposhian. “I think we can actually have some good dialogue on that.”

Students told us gun rights advocates did bring up good points, and they plan to look into the issues they discussed.

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Glen Mills

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For this Beetdigger and Ute it’s an honor to be doing what he loves in his home state! Glen is an award-winning journalist, who joined the ABC4 News team in June 2013. You can catch him anchoring ABC4 News at 5 and 6, Monday through Friday. He also serves as our Senior Political Correspondent, keeping you up to date on issues that impact your life at the city, state and national level. His political reports run throughout the week, and he hosts Inside Utah Politics, Sunday mornings at 8. The Utah Headliners Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has recognized Glen as the best government and military television reporter in the state. Before returning home to Utah, he spent 11 1/2 years developing his journalism skills in other states. He held various on-air and management positions at KPVI in Pocatello, Idaho, WGBA in Green Bay, Wisconsin and KKCO in Grand Junction, Colorado during that time. Read More...