By nearly 90 percent majorities, Utah voters support not selling guns to people who have been determined mentally ill by a mental health professional, a new UtahPolicy.com/Y2 Analytics poll finds.
Just such a bill was discussed by legislators some years ago, but nothing has ever been done on it.
A related bill -- called a "red flag" law -- was introduced in the 2019 Legislature but never got a hearing, and died in the House Rules Committee.
The Utah Political Trends survey finds:
87 percent of Utah voters either “strongly support” or “support” a law that would say guns could not be sold to someone who had been classified as mentally ill by a health care professional.
Only 6 percent oppose such a law, and 7 percent neither oppose nor support such a measure.
There have been mass shooting instances where the shooter had severe mental issues, like the young man who killed children in the Sandy Hook School.
However, other mass shooters seemed to be somewhat normal to lay, observers, like the man who killed more than 50 people in the Las Vegas outdoor concert shooting.
All demographic categories, Y2 finds, support a no-sale to folks who have been diagnosed as mentally ill.
Even those who told Y2 that they are “strong conservatives” support such a measure.
72 percent of that group “strongly support” or “support” banning mentally ill people from buying guns.
The Red Flag bill sponsored by Rep. Steve Handy, R-Layton, approaches guns and the mentally ill from a different area -- an attempt to keep the disturbed from harming themselves and others.
That bill, which has been passed in a few other states, would allow a relative of the person at issue to go to court, get an expedited hearing before a judge, and the judge order the disturbed person to temporarily give up their guns to police.
The idea is controversial because, obviously, the disturbed person couldn’t be made aware of the initial judicial hearing, or he or she could kill themselves with their gun, or go on a shooting spree before police could stop them/get their guns.
The disturbed person could get their guns back after further judicial procedures in which they are invited to attend.
Local gun rights groups have opposed any Red Flag bill upon different rights issues. And so far the Legislature has refused to act.
But as Senate President Stuart Adams, R-Layton, and House Speaker Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, both told UtahPolicy.com on Monday, they expect a variety of gun control issues to come before the 2020 Legislature.
The UtahPolicy.com/Y2 Analytics gun issue polling -- the most thorough look at Utah voters’ ideas on the subject for some time -- points out that the state’s residents have had what seems to be a change of heart on guns and gun violence.
Poll results show large majorities of voters, of all different political stripes and philosophies, support in some measure various gun control legislative actions.
Is the time ripe for some further gun control measures? In the recent past GOP Gov. Gary Herbert has said that Utah’s gun laws “are about right,” and there was no further need for change.
But Herbert told UtahPolicy.com last week that he’s open to the gun debate, and that things like universal background checks on all gun sales should be debated in the Legislature.