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Gun lobbyist seeks restoration of firearms rights

Published June 18, 2013 12:18 pm

Domestic violence • Aposhian granted a continuance on a protective order.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

For perhaps three more weeks or longer, Clark Aposhian — Utah's leading gun lobbyist — will be without his arsenal of guns, as he received a continuance at his hearing Tuesday on a protective order filed by his ex-wife.

Mitch Vilos, Aposhian's attorney, said he will spend the next few days developing a brief proposing to lift the federal law banning Aposhian's access to his weapons while facing charges in court.

Aposhian was charged with domestic violence after a Memorial Day incident when he allegedly drove a two-ton army surplus truck onto his ex-wife's property, scaring his daughter and nearly hitting a vehicle. Aposhian also allegedly told his ex-wife's husband he would "bury" him.

Third District Court Commissioner Michelle Blomquist granted the continuance Tuesday, during which time Vilos said he'll draft an affidavit to get witness testimony into the court hearing, set for July 16.

"In order to get due process in a case like this, you really have to have an opportunity to have a full-blown hearing where you can cross-examine the witnesses," Vilos said.

Aposhian's ex-wife's attorney, Mitch Olsen, extended the protective order and said he would object to any attempt to restore Aposhian's right to possess weapons.

"I'll just file a revisory saying why I don't think" Aposhian should have access to weapons, Olsen told The Salt Lake Tribune after the hearing.

Vilos said the case is an example of federal overreach, and that Aposhian shouldn't lose his rights because of the restraining order.

"In this day and age you have perhaps millions of workers that have to have a firearm for their profession," said Vilos, who represents gun owners and dealers. "It's important that this be addressed by the courts and by the legislatures to stop taking away the rights of innocent people without any kind of due process."

Aposhian is a renowned firearms instructor and also helps draft gun policy for Utah. Unless Vilos' request to lift the firearms ban is approved, Aposhian will be without work. His collection — estimated at close to 300 guns, according to police records — was moved into private storage a little over two weeks ago.

Vilos questioned the usefulness of protective orders, citing the high-profile 2008 murder in Lehi of Kristy Ragsdale by her husband, against whom the victim had requested a restraining order.

"If somebody wants to execute their wife, a protective order is a false sense of security and we need to stop doing that," Vilos said, adding that Aposhian poses no threat to his ex-wife.

A witness accompanied Aposhian to court Tuesday morning but declined to comment while leaving the courtroom. Vilos said the testimony of this and other witnesses would be contained in an affidavit showing that the Memorial Day occurrence was a "non-event."

Aposhian also is due in court in West Jordan Wednesday to face a civil stalking temporary injunction filed by his ex-wife's husband.

Derek P. Jensen contributed to this report.

tanderson@sltrib.com

Twitter: @taylorwanderson