Davis County state Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clinton, is sponsoring a bill to allow people to legally carry a firearm without fear of being charged with disorderly conduct by police. It's a bad idea that takes away important aspects of a law enforcement officer's job, such as the ability to discern when an incident can get out of hand, and the ability to control a tense situation.
Rep. Ray is apparently worried about a law enforcement officer's hassling a law-abiding individual who is legally carrying a firearm. On the very rare ocacasions that occurs, we share his concern.
But Rep. Ray's House Bill 49 is not needed to address a rare problem. We're far more worried about police officers being legislatively forced to mull over whether they are breaking an unnecessary firearms law while trying to defuse or deal with a tense, dangerous situation.
Frankly, if one is allowed to legally carry a firearm in Utah, they should be mature enough to comply with an officer's request and then file a complaint later if so inclined.
We don't see a rash of cases where police have hassled owners of firearms in Utah. Why in the world would the Legislature want to waste time and money creating a law that fulfills no real need?
HB49 does not make Utah a safer state for anyone, but it does potentially harm law enforcement's ability to keep the peace by restricting law enforcement tools. Nevertheless, in the House Enforcement and Criminal Justice Standing Committee, Top of Utah Republican legislators Curt Oda, R-Clearfield, and Richard Greenwood, R-Roy, both voted to move Ray's bill to the House.
Most Utahns would prefer tougher law enforcement laws, rather than a bill that keeps firearms carriers free of police review.
The House needs to send HB49 to defeat.