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Bill gives gun owners charged with crime 'due process'

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 14 2012 8:28 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — Under Utah law, concealed weapon permit holders who are charged with a violent crime face a difficult dilemma, according Rep. Stephen Sandstrom, R-Orem.

Currently, the law not only requires that their permit be immediately revoked, but also prohibits them from transferring or selling their firearms to someone else, the sponsor of HB395 told the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee Tuesday.

To address that question, Sandstrom's bill would require that a person not be just charged with a crime, but bound over for trial before a concealed weapons permit could be revoked, Sandstrom said.

"Simply being charged with a crime should not be an automatic loss of gun rights in the state of Utah," he said. "If you're going to lose a privilege, you have to have some due process to take that away."

But a proposed last minute change that Sandstrom said had been requested by the National Rifle Association kept the committee from voting on the bill.

The original version of the bill would prohibit gun owners from selling or transferring a weapon "knowingly, or having cause to believe" to someone restricted from gun ownership, such as a felon or illegal immigrant. The proposed changed would have cut the phrase to only "knowingly." 

But, Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Salt Lake City, said the explanation for the change was too fuzzy.

"I'd like to be clear on what we're talking about," Arent said. "This is very important language.

The committee will re-consider the bill at its next meeting Thursday.

E-mail: lbrubaker@desnews.com

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