Congress hopeful talks of bump stocks, Bears Ears in Park City
March 15, 2018
Kurt Weiland looks at the U.S. and says too many Americans no longer recognize their own country.
It is one of the core points of what will likely be a difficult campaign for the congressional seat that includes Park City and surrounding Summit County. Weiland, 72, a Democrat who lives in Bountiful, is seeking the party's nomination in District 1 of the House of Representatives. He wants to challenge Rep. Rob Bishop, an incumbent Republican who has easily dispatched his Democratic competitors.
Weiland appeared at a private residence in Park City on Friday alongside a roster of other Democrats who are mounting campaigns on the local and state levels. It was an opportunity for the party faithful to listen to short stump speeches at the outset of the campaign season. Election Day is months away, but the filing window for county, state and federal offices closes on Thursday.
Weiland's local appearance so early in the campaign seemed designed to begin shoring up one of the notable pockets of Democrats in the district. Other Democrats have enjoyed solid results in the Summit County part of the district only to be routed in Republican-heavy population centers.
"We're concerned about things like decency and respect and inclusion and listening to one another," Weiland told the crowd on Friday.
Weiland brings a military background to a campaign in a district where the future of Hill Air Force Base is of vital importance. He spent 23 years in the Army ending in 1990. He retired as a major after serving in locations like Fort Bragg in North Carolina and West Germany. He taught at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York, for three years in the 1980s. Weiland became a business consultant after his retirement from the military and owns a firm called Jefferson Smith Training and Consulting.
In an interview during the event on Friday, Weiland addressed several issues that will likely be crucial to the campaign, including the nation's firearms laws and the future of public lands.
Weiland said the nation's gun laws should be tightened in a manner that would prohibit so-called bump stocks that essentially allow a semiautomatic gun to shoot as a fully automatic one. He also wants a ban on large-capacity ammunition magazines.
"Bump stocks have no use in the sporting field. You don't put 20 rounds into a deer. You hope you only have to put one round into that deer and take him home and feed him to your family. That's what the sport was all about," Weiland said.
He said he wants to "immediately get rid of bump stocks." Weiland wants the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to open an investigation "into the plague of gun violence and the remedies to that plague. They are the experts in this."
"When I heard the news reports out of Las Vegas and I heard the weapon going off, my first reaction was that's an automatic weapon and how did he get it. It wasn't an automatic weapon. It was a semiautomatic weapon with a bump stock," Weiland said.
He said raising the age to purchase firearms would not solve the issue without other steps. He said reasonable gun registration and training are also needed as well as "reasonable safety concerns" that would garner widespread support. He said he respects the constitutional right to bear arms.
"I've been familiar with weapons all my life. I carried a weapon in the Army. I qualified on the M-14, the M-16. As an officer I carried a .45-caliber automatic pistol, I'm comfortable with weapons. But I'm also aware that the issues run far deeper than a sound byte," Weiland said.
He does not plan to accept contributions "from anyone whose interests run against the people."
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"If a manufacturer of bump stocks came to me and said, 'Hey, we've got $3 million for you,' I would take a deep breath and I would say, 'I'm sorry, can't do that.'"
The candidate outlined starkly different positions on public lands from the incumbent congressman. Weiland said Bishop supported cutting the acreage of national monuments, as an example.
"Public lands for the restriction of public lands," Weiland said, describing his opinion of the incumbent. "He agreed to the reduction of Bears Ears and the Grand Escalante staircase. He cut it back. … Return Grand Escalante and Bears Ears to the original boundaries."