Governor fires first shot over gun legislation

SALT LAKE CITY — As state lawmakers prepare to debate a series of bills dealing with guns, Governor Gary Herbert unveiled a series of “guiding principles” he will use when deciding whether to sign or veto any legislation on the topic.

“This is what I’m going to be judging them on,” Herbert told reporters on Thursday. “These principles that I have here.”

Those principles are:

  • Respect the Second Amendment
  • Find rational solutions
  • Enforce existing laws
  • Protect the vulnerable
  • Address a growing culture of violence

(A detailed listing of the governor’s guiding principles on gun control legislation can be read here.)

The principles had not yet been shared with the Utah State Legislature. After being handed a copy of them by FOX 13, House Speaker Rebecca Lockhart, R-Provo, said that in general they were something “everyone would support.”

“It’s always in the details, right? What’s in the details in the pieces of legislation that we’re working on and how it applies to these principles,” she said. “Obviously, these are the governor’s guiding principles and so it would be up to his judgment in how he views the bills that we work on here.”

The governor tried a similar tactic with lawmakers during the emotionally charged debate over immigration, hoping to tone down the emotion and rhetoric on both sides. Lockhart suggested that it wasn’t particularly successful back then, and acknowledged there is emotion on the topic of gun control this year.

House Majority Whip Greg Hughes, R-Draper, said constituents are emotional about the topic of gun control — and worried about what the federal government may do.

“Is there emotion? I think it is, and I think one of the problems with this issue is we’re hearing a lot of messages nationally, messages coming from Washington, D.C., that there is a natural reaction from our constituency,” Hughes said. “That’s what I think you’re seeing in some of the legislation that’s being proffered.”

Some of the legislation being proposed includes threatening federal agents with arrest if they attempt to seize anyone’s guns, as well as bills that allow a person to more easily carry a weapon. Those bills are expected to be released on Friday and have committee hearings next week.

Governor Herbert said he hopes the emotion can be scaled back.

“It’s just time to count to 10 and be a little more thoughtful about this,” he said. “Don’t let the emotions get in the way of more rational thought. Let’s make sure that we do things that are reasonable and practical and really give us a good end result.”

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