Sandy is scheduled to vote Tuesday night to repeal firearms laws restricting carrying guns in public places — even by minors or inebriated adults.
If the City Council goes along with the proposed changes, it no longer will be illegal to pack a gun in a park, on a trail, golf course or in any other city recreational facility.
The ordinances are being amended now at the demand of a national gun-rights organization, the Second Amendment Foundation, which recently put Sandy on notice that its gun laws are illegal because they go beyond what is authorized by Utah law.
"Sandy City Corporation has no legal authority to adopt or enforce these sections of the Sandy City Corporation Code and should, out of respect for the supremacy of the Utah Legislature, and out of respect for the rule of law, repeal them," foundation Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb wrote in a July 8 letter to the city.
It was among 49 such demand letters sent to local governments around the state on the same date — part of a project by the foundation in which it pores through all local ordinances to flag those it considers as exceeding the authority granted by state law. Utah was the seventh state targeted in the group’s project, but it said it plans, eventually, to get to them all.
Utah, like many states, has reserved most gun-regulating authority to the Legislature — aside from allowing cities to restrict the discharge or brandishing of firearms.
"We’re just trying to make sure our ordinances are in keeping with what the state Legislature has said we’re allowed to do and not allowed to do," Sandy spokeswoman Nicole Martin said Monday.
Sandy City Attorney Walter Miller, in his earlier written response to the gun-rights group, said the city already recognized problems with the ordinances in question and "have directed that they not be enforced. … I expect support [to repeal them] from the City Council on this change since I believe their respect for the Second Amendment closely mirrors that of your organization."
The Second Amendment Foundation, based in Bellevue, Wash., sometimes is referred to as the legal arm of the gun-rights movement and estimates it currently has some 30 lawsuits ongoing.
Sandy’s spokeswoman says council members will likely have some good discussion and debate but "when it’s all said and done, the City Council, as the state has said, does not have the power to regulate this area."
That applies, she said, even when it comes to things such as prohibiting possession of a gun while under the influence of drugs or alcohol or banning minors from carrying firearms without parental permission.
"Citizens need to look at what they’re comfortable with, and that’s where the communication with their state legislator comes in," Martin said. "If, in fact, this is deemed something that we as a society are not comfortable with, Utah state [law] has said that’s the state legislators that have the say over whether that is a good idea or not a good idea."
According to a copy of the proposed amendments, Sandy will retain plenty of restrictions on what a person can carry or do in a park or other public place outside of packing heat.
City code, for example, outlaws carrying a firecracker or other fireworks in parks and on trails. Also forbidden: "making excessive, unnecessary or unusually loud noises" and, without express written permission from the city, "speech-making."
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