Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
(Al Hartmann | The Salt Lake Tribune) Rep. Brian Greene, R-Pleasant Grove, sponsor of HB 114 Second Amendment Preservation Act speaks in the House of Representatives Friday March 8 during debate of the bill.
Utah House approves controversial states’ rights gun bill
Politics » Measure would attempt to elevate state law over federal regulations.
First Published Mar 08 2013 11:11 am • Last Updated Mar 08 2013 10:36 pm

A controversial bill asserting the supremacy of Utah gun laws over the federal government passed the House on Friday — placing Utah among only a handful of states to get such a measure successfully through a legislative chamber.

Rep. Brian Greene, R-Pleasant Grove, asserted his Second Amendment Preservation Act isn’t a gun bill but is instead a states’ rights measure that looks to stave off what he sees as encroachment by the federal government on firearm laws.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

"We don’t know what the federal government is going to do with sweeping gun regulations," Greene said. "But we can look back and see what the history has been in terms of federal encroachment on state jurisdictions — even on the inalienable right of our citizens."

The bill asserts that legal primacy on firearms and ammunition rests with the state, not the federal government.

But Greene insisted his bill isn’t "reactionary" to proposals by President Barack Obama that seek to reduce magazine capacity on guns and put more rigorous background checks into place.

HB114 passed 49-17 but likely faces a tougher challenge on the other side of the Capitol. Senate President Wayne Niederhauser said several days ago he’d like to see Greene’s bill vetted by a Senate committee — but those ended Thursday headed into next week’s adjournment.

"We’re going to be very cautious" with the bill," Niederhauser said Friday.

The bill has also morphed from its original version. The biggest change was removal of the requirement for local police to arrest federal agents attempting to seize guns from Utah residents.

Rep. Kraig Powell, R-Heber City, successfully changed the bill on the House floor again by requiring a judicial review in instances where state law conflicts with federal law on guns.

He said he worried about scenarios that might put local police in the position of trying to stop FBI or DEA agents attempting to execute warrants on criminal investigations.

story continues below
story continues below

"I’m quite concerned with a scenario that has been described as ‘dueling police officers,’ " Powell said.

Powell also suggested that if Greene wanted to send a message to the federal government, he should have drafted a non-binding resolution instead.

The bill, even with the removal of its controversial component of requiring the arrest of federal agents, still had a constitutional note attached to it saying the law would likely be challenged in court over the Commerce and Supremacy clauses of the U.S. Constitution.

Greene said the measure is necessary to safeguard the rights of the state.

"This is prudent," Greene said. "We should adopt this legislation so we are in the best position if the time comes to protect our citizens."

Rep. Jeremy Peterson, R-Ogden, said he supported the proposal on "practical" grounds and drew a parallel to the prohibition on alcohol imposed by the federal government and how it created black markets. He also said sweeping federal legislation doesn’t factor in regional cultures and customs.

"Not all states are created equal," Peterson said. "We all have different histories and values."

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Utah joins Alaska, Kentucky, Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming in passing a similar measure through one legislative chamber. About two dozen states have had proposals introducing similar bills.


Twitter: @davemontero

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.