New bill gets guns out of the house

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SALT LAKE CITY -- A new bill being considered in the Utah State Legislature would let people get guns out of their homes to avoid incidences of gun violence.

Rep. Dixon Pitcher's HB121 creates a "safe harbor" where people can voluntarily surrender their firearms to local police for up to 60 days.

"You can deposit the gun, short term, to get through an emergency," said Pitcher, R-Ogden. "That's what the safe harbor bill does for firearms."

Pitcher said police would register the gun and keep it safe.

"It provides a platform if there's emergencies in a family -- let's say there's somebody who feels like they're suicidal or they have someone with a mental illness or a mental dispute or some type of emergency," said Pitcher. "Under the conditions we have right now, this is a good time to get the firearm out of the house."

Pitcher said the bill came out of the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting. The Ogden lawmaker wondered if circumstances could have changed if the shooter's mother had been able to get her guns out of the home, like his bill would do.

"It saves lives," he said.

Clark Aposhian of the Utah Shooting Sports Council said he liked the bill "in concept," but said he had concerns with the bill. He wanted to ensure that no one was surrendering someone else's firearm. Pitcher said his bill would not allow police to accept someone else's gun.

Aposhian said he also had concerns about a provision in the bill that allowed police to keep the firearm if it went unclaimed after a certain period of time.

"Let's see if we can get something in the statute that yes, protects someone who may be temporarily despondent and shouldn't have access to a firearm, but protects their rights as well," he said.

HB121 is expected to have a hearing in the coming weeks.