Bill to keep guns from domestic violence offenders advances in Utah House

A bill that aims to keep guns out of the hands of domestic violence perpetrators is making its way through the Utah House of Representatives.

KSL News reports House Bill 206, which would expand the category of persons restricted from possessing firearms to include persons subject to protective orders and those who have been convicted of assault against a cohabitant, was unanimously approved Friday by the Utah House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee.

Sponsor Rep. Brian King noted that Utah’s domestic violence rate is higher than the national average, and said the bill would align Utah law with federal law.

“If you have prior domestic violence and a gun in the home, the likelihood that a woman dies increases dramatically,” King said.

King hopes the legislation will give state police and prosecutors more resources in these types of cases.

“Replicating in state law what is already prohibited on a federal law level just brings more resources to the table,” he said.

“It makes it much more likely that, for individuals who already shouldn’t have a gun because they have been convicted of domestic violence or have a protective order entered against them … that we have the resources to go after those individuals, identify them, and get the guns out of those individuals’ hands,” King said.

Carl Calaway, who lost his daughter, Katherine Peralta, when her husband, Richard Peralta, fatally shot her last December, said that he is a firm supporter of Second Amendment rights and views the bill as a way of protecting those rights.

“These (rights) get protected by bills like this,” he said. “They don’t hurt it.”

Rep. King is reportedly working on an amendment to the bill that would better align it with federal law. Once that amendment is solidified, King noted, the NRA and Utah Shooting Sports Council have indicated they will support the legislation.