Tribune editorial: Utah Legislature changed the DUI law to save lives. Why won’t they do the same for gun laws?

(Steve Griffin | Tribune File Photo) A driver talks on her cell phone while driving near the University of Utah Friday January 23, 2009.

The Utah Legislature is standing on principle. It is going to allow the law reducing the legal limit for blood alcohol content to a lowest-in-the-nation 0.05 percent.

Lawmakers know a lot of people don’t like it. That it threatens to cost individuals, businesses and government a lot of money. That it will make life difficult for people who sell alcohol, people who are known to imbibe now and again and for the folks whose job it is to entice conventions, tourists and new businesses to the state.

But they don’t care. If tightening the definition of drunk driving saves even one life, this line of thinking goes, it will be worth it.

Whether one agrees with this position or not, it is a principled point of view.

Or it would be.

It would be if lawmakers applied the same if-it-saves-one-life concept to any issue other than alcohol.

Signs are not good.

The other day members of a Utah legislative committee gave a hostile reception to a proposal to require trigger locks or other means of secure storage for firearms when not in use.

There can be no question that having and following such a law would save lives. There would be fewer accidents. There would be fewer suicides. There would be fewer cases of people who aren’t responsible with guns stealing them from those who are more responsible — except for the fact that they didn’t lock up their guns.

Much of the response to the bill, though, ignored all that in favor of some concern that requiring responsible behavior was somehow a government overreach, a violation of Second Amendment rights or just overly bothersome to people who have watched way too many movies and think they need constant and immediate access to their boomsticks in order to fend off the Walking Dead.

Also, some legislators continue to pull for a law that would allow police officers to pull over drivers who are observed talking or texting on a cellphone while driving. It is common knowledge — backed up by extensive research conducted at the University of Utah — that such not-so-smartphone behavior is at least as much a hazard to the driver and to everyone else on the road as is being legally drunk behind the wheel.

But years of making that proposal have proved fruitless as the free-to-be-stupid lobby has prevailed with the argument that they don’t want to.

In both cases, a law that would save as many or more lives than the reduced BAC standard faces an uphill battle because most of the people who make laws in this state don’t drink, but do like guns and do love cellphones.

Meanwhile, those of us who lose loved ones to people with guns or drivers distracted by their cellphones are expected to feel that their loss is less important than those who have lost family members to drunk drivers.

Only in Utah.