Feds may shoot down gun bill
February 20, 2010
Legislation sitting on the desk of Gov. Gary Herbert would exempt guns and ammunition that are manufactured, sold and used in Utah from federal firearms restrictions.
But state officials may wind up defending Senate Bill 11 in federal court if Herbert signs the legislation. Herbert received the bill Tuesday and has 10 days to take action, which could include signing the legislation or vetoing it.
"He intends to take that time to fully analyze the legislation. Gov. Herbert certainly agrees with and applauds the intent of the bill, which is to challenge the current interpretation of the federal Interstate Commerce Clause," said Angie Welling, a spokeswoman for the governor, in a prepared statement. "However, he does have constitutional and fiscal concerns with the legislation and will examine those prior to making a decision on the bill."
The state Senate voted 19-10 to approve the bill. The two senators who represent Summit County, Republicans Kevin Van Tassell and Allen Christensen, supported the legislation.
Meanwhile, the two representatives serving Summit County in the state House of Representatives voted differently on SB 11. Republican Mel Brown supported the bill and Democrat Christine Johnson opposed the legislation. The House voted 56-17 to approve the bill.
Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, is the sponsor of SB 11.
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"This is an issue of state sovereignty," Dayton said. "We have a right under the constitution to control commerce in our state."
If parts of the bill are challenged by the federal government "there will be costs associated with defending those provisions," according to the Office of the Legislative Fiscal Analyst.
Summit County Sheriff Dave Edmunds said SB 11 does not concern him even though fewer gun buyers may undergo background checks if the legislation is approved.
"These federal regulations on guns have not done their job in my opinion. I have never been concerned about a good, law-abiding citizen having a gun. It has never bothered me," Edmunds said. "The law-abiding public and the people who actually submit themselves to background checks, those are not the people who are committing gun crimes. People who are committing gun crimes are career criminals."
Gun accidents will not increase if SB 11 becomes law, Edmunds said.
"That’s an absurd notion," Edmunds said.
"I have never seen the onerous gun laws at the federal level protect anyone."