Utah officials should ask public before towing NRA line
Ryan Summerlin January 18, 2013
Utah’s entire congressional delegation, and a majority of other elected officials around the state, may be shrieking about President Barack Obama’s recent gun-control proposals, but we are not. More than a year ago, Park City Mayor Dana Williams took an early stand on the issue by joining New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s nationwide group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a move that most of his constituents support.
That was before 20 first-grade students and six teachers were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
Utah Republican Senators Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee, along with their cohorts in the House of Representatives, Rob Bishop, Jason Chaffetz and Chris Stewart, and even the state’s lone "sorta" Democrat, Representative Jim Matheson have characterized the president’s plan as a violation of citizens’ sacred Second Amendment rights. Even before the ink was dry on the president’s announcement they were already threatening to block all of the propsal’s major tenets.
We believe they do not have as much support as they think they do.
They certainly don’t in Park City, where residents bristle at being summarily lumped in with Utah’s ultraconservative noisemakers who helped to fuel the formation of the Tea Party and who were so successful at ratcheting up the hateful rhetoric of the last election.
The president’s proposal calls for much-needed legislation to close background-check loopholes, especially at gun shows, and banning military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. It also includes plans to make schools safer and increase access to mental-health services.
After U.S. Representative Gabby Gifford was shot and six others were killed in Tucson, Ariz., by a man using an assault rifle equipped with high-capacity magazines, and 12 people were killed at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo. by a maniac with an arsenal of semiautomatic handguns and an assault rifle, and after Sandy Hook, where the killer used his mom’s assault rifle to mow down those innocent students, these seem like reasonable ideas.
Park City might not align with the rest of the state on this issue, but it would be nice if our federal elected officials would at least ask for our views before jumping on the National Rifle Association’s you’ll-have-to-take-them-from-our-cold-dead-hands, anti-gun-control bandwagon.
Many states, primarily in the East where the Sandy Hook tragedy took place and where gun violence is becoming a common occurrence, are already adopting tougher gun laws and promising to beef up enforcement of existing rules.
It shouldn’t have to take a mass shooting in Utah to convince our congressional delegation that new gun-control laws, addressing the use of weapons that weren’t around when the Founding Fathers wrote up the Constitution, are not a threat to our Second Amendment rights.
If Utah’s senators and representatives honestly want to represent their constituents, they ought to ask them how they feel before they start trying to dismantle this important, lifesaving initiative to overhaul America’s gun laws.