Rep. Kraig Powell, the Republican legislator whose district includes Park City, said on Wednesday he opposes the idea of having federal agents arrested if they attempt to enforce national gun laws in Utah.
Powell, holding a public forum at the Park City Library and Education Center, said a piece of legislation addressing the topic appears to be unconstitutional. He said he could not support a bill given what he had learned of the legislation by then.
A Republican legislator from Pleasant Grove, Brian Greene, is sponsoring legislation entitled the Second Amendment Preservation Act, which would allow the prosecution of someone trying to enforce federal gun laws. It had not been put to a vote by Friday morning.
"We can't have dueling peace officers," Powell said, referring to state and federal law enforcement.
He called the idea a "very dangerous instruction to our law enforcement officers."
In an interview after the forum, Powell outlined his stand on other firearm topics. His opinions include:
Powell's appearance drew a sparse crowd of six people plus his wife. He is in his first term representing Park City in the House of Representatives after having his district reworked to include Park City to reflect population shifts in the 2010 census. He is in his third term overall.
Powell in the months since the campaign has attempted to build relations in Park City. He lives in Heber. He has been in discussions with Park City leaders about the legislative session and attended a recent Park City Council meeting.
In the early days of the legislative session, Powell attempted to pass a bill that would have allowed the state to consider climate change in its planning for fighting wildfires. It was a surprise piece of legislation from a Republican. It did not advance out of a committee. Powell said on Wednesday he had hoped the legislation would not become controversial.
He spoke about partisanship at the Legislature as he discussed the bill, saying that he had heard from other Republicans that he was attempting to generate publicity with the legislation.
Powell declared that he remained a Republican. He said he grew up a Republican in a family that supported the GOP.
He said some in the Legislature vote along party lines regardless of the topic.
"Unfortunately, many legislators don't vote just on the issue," Powell said.
Powell seemed to concede he could someday face a challenge from within the Republican Party based on his moderate stands. He said he would attempt to fend off a Republican challenger by educating voters and rallying them to attend caucuses and conventions where party candidates are selected.
Powell said he supports a bill that would preserve the option for voters who are not affiliated with a party to affiliate and vote in that party's primary election.
He also criticized the lawmaking process, particularly targeting bills passed toward the end of the annual legislative session. There have been long-running concerns among some that follow the Legislature about the hurried final days and hours of a session. Powell said he wants bills introduced earlier.
"I can promise you the worst bills are not public yet," he said later in the gathering.
Powell, meanwhile, spoke about budgetary issues, saying that the state collected more in revenues than anticipated. Legislative leaders, though, are hesitant to spend the money until it is known how the federal government will deal with its fiscal matters.
"Recessions affect governments just like they do individuals," Powell said.