House passes bill blocking schools from asking about gun ownership

Published: Monday, March 10 2014 3:30 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — School officials would be banned from asking students if their parents own firearms under the terms of a bill passed Monday by the Utah House.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Dana Layton, R-Orem, said she was motivated to propose HB397 after learning of a smartphone application that mapped out the gun owners in a neighborhood from user-provided information.

"I can’t control the information people are turning in on their neighbors, but we can at least prevent schools from doing it," Layton said.

Rep. Carol Spackman Moss, D-Salt Lake City, questioned why the bill was necessary considering the already-extensive list of informational subjects school officials are legally unable to obtain from their students.

Moss suggested that if there were a problem of school officials surveying gun ownership, it could be addressed through local school board policy without the creation of new state law.

"I think it goes a little bit too far to put this in statute," Moss said.

Layton said the bill is intended to prevent inappropriate information gathering, rather than solve an existing problem.

"I just think it’s a wise thing to prevent, given that there are interest groups that would like to target people who own different types of personal property," she said.

The bill was approved in a 65-8 vote of the House and will now go before the Senate for consideration.

— Benjamin Wood

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