Guns not games • Utah's lone Democrat in Congress is reintroducing a bill regulating the labeling and distribution of video games that is possibly unconstitutional and has never received a hearing in his six previous tries. Rep. Jim Matheson, who was endorsed by the National Rifle Association, is echoing the NRA's response to the massacre of 20 children and six adults in Newtown, Conn.: that violent video games and movies, and not the proliferation of assault weapons and other guns, are to blame. Matheson's bill would require the rating of all video games and levy fines on sales of "adult"-rated games to those under 18. But it falls short of offering anything to prevent mass shootings. The U.S. Supreme Court has struck down a similar law, arguing there is no proof that watching violent video games leads to violent acts. And the industry already rates the games. If Matheson is interested in something that might actually reduce mass killings, he should support President Obama's proposals to limit weapons designed to kill scores of people quickly.
Wild West culture • For some Utah legislators, weapon ownership is akin to a religion. They feel passionate about what they see as their right to take a gun anywhere and display it openly. Now Rep. John Mathis, R-Vernal, wants to eliminate even the requirement that a person carrying a concealed weapon have a permit. But that is taking gun worship too far. Anyone 21 or older would be allowed to carry a legally purchased gun. Convicted criminals couldn't be armed, but who would know whether he or she had a criminal record? The permit requires a criminal background check and basic gun-handling instruction. If the weapon were purchased at a gun show, even that transaction would not require a background check. At a time when Americans who are serious about preventing mass shootings are discussing reasonable limits on gun ownership, Mathis' proposal runs counter to reason.
Outdoor economy • A coalition of conservation groups has filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Salt Lake City challenging the U.S. Interior Department's decision to allow nearly 1,300 new oil and gas wells in Utah's Desolation Canyon region. Their action is in Utah's best interest, and all Utahns should welcome it. Desolation Canyon and proposed wilderness areas in the region are among Utah's outdoor recreation gems. Allowing this scale of energy development in such a sensitive environment is neither necessary nor prudent. Alternative proposals would allow drilling while protecting Desolation Canyon and its value to the state.