SALT LAKE CITY -- The constitutionality of a controversial gun bill drew sharp contrasts of opinion in a House committee Friday, and a decision on the measure was delayed again.
Sponsored by Rep. Brian Greene, R-Pleasant Grove, HB 114 would reserve regulation of firearms to the state and provide penalties for anyone attempting to enforce federal laws to the contrary.
Public comment on the measure was so extensive that time ran out before lawmakers could vote on whether to pass the bill out of committee.
Steve Gunn said HB 114 violates the rule of law. "It tells our citizens that don't like federal gun-control laws the state can interfere with those laws. If a gun owner doesn't like a firearms law, he can violate the law."
Connor Boyack, of the Libertas Institute, insists concerns raised about the legality of the measure should not stop lawmakers from moving it forward.
He said the bill deals with a much bigger question: "(Do) federal control laws, which I believe are blatantly unconstitutional, inherently trump state laws?"
He said he could think of no better use of state taxpayer funds than to defend the Second Amendment.
Jean Hill with the Salt Lake Catholic Diocese disagrees, suggesting any use of state funding to resolve the issue is a waste of money.
"To waste money on this goes against everything we stand for in this state."
Most of the testimony came from residents who weighed in to support the bill, suggesting it was the only way to curb the encroachment of the federal government on individual rights.
Seth Porter said the bill protects citizens from "gun-grabbing politicians."
"HB 114 is a step Utah can take to support our rights and says you can't tread on us."