Proposal: Exempt Utah from federal gun laws
Politics • Resolution will be presented to local Republican party as activist tries to find legislative sponsor.
Published: January 15, 2013 08:47PM
Updated: January 16, 2013 11:40AM

The Washington County Republican Party will hear a resolution at its monthly meeting that seeks to exclude Utah from federal gun laws just as President Barack Obama announces his proposals for gun restrictions Wednesday.

Dale Ure said he plans to read the resolution at the Washington County Republican Central Committee on Jan. 19 — Gun Appreciation Day — and said he also is seeking a state lawmaker to sponsor the resolution when the Legislature opens for business Jan. 28.

“I think it is universally accepted, wanted and needed,” said Ure, a 64-year-old financial services salesman. “I think, we as a people need to stand up and say we need to do that. I don’t think there is any debate about it.”

The resolution calls for Utah to give sole firearm confiscation powers to county sheriffs and impose a $5,000 fine on any federal agent who takes a gun from a Utah resident without the authorization of the sheriff.

It also would give the state the authority to regulate make, type and brand of guns allowed in the state. Ure would like to see a return to magazines that can hold 30 rounds and said it’s “almost impossible” to find anything that holds more than 10 rounds in Utah.

Obama’s proposal is expected to include an assault weapon ban, a review of magazine capacities and stronger background checks.

Willie Billings, chairman of the Washington County Republican Party, said the committee wouldn’t be able to pass the resolution until its next meeting “in early summer” because Ure missed the Jan. 9 deadline to have it placed on the agenda for this meeting.

However, Billings said he has carved out time at the meeting for Ure to read his resolution and a committee member could automatically make a move to have it considered as a formal resolution at the next meeting.

“I’m guessing we’ll see what kind of support it has at the meeting,” Billings said. “If it does, we’ll look at the exact wording and see if it’s something we can work with.”

But Karen McCreary, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah, said the resolution doesn’t have the effect of law and said there hasn’t been any indication that gun rights have been eroding in Utah.

She said, in fact, legislation in the past few cycles has leaned toward removing gun restrictions.

“I don’t know this resolution is particularly meaningful given it has no teeth to it,” McCreary said. “The issue is certainly something worthy of a national and statewide conversation as we work on ways to move through what has been a horrific time of gun violence in this country.”

Steven Gunn, an attorney and board member of the Gun Violence Prevention Center of Utah, said he wasn’t surprised to see a move on this issue in Utah. Gunn, who has a long history of fighting the loosening of gun restrictions at the Capitol — including a high-profile but unsuccessful fight in 2010 to stop Utah from adopting a state gun — said any meaningful firearm laws will have to come from the federal level.

“It [the resolution] is predictable from our state,” Gunn said.

Ure, an unsuccessful candidate for the 2010 Washington County school board, said he was in the process of mobilizing a loose-knit group of tea party members to help push the issue forward.

He said in the wake of the mass shootings in Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Colo., last year, it was imperative to fight against federal proposals he believed were stripping away Second Amendment protections.

“We must pursue this quickly,” Ure said.

dmontero@sltrib.com

Twitter: @davemontero