Monday, February 7, 2011

Uniform weapons laws in Utah

Both the US and the Utah Constitutions protect the citizens' right to posses and use "arms." When we think of "arms," we usually think about firearms. However, many other tools can be considered "arms." Among these are batons, knives, nunchucks, and swords.

A few months ago, I wrote to my legislators to suggest that Utah Section 53-5a-102 (Uniform firearm laws) be amended to change the word "firearms" to the word "arms" to reflect the intent of both Constitutions to guarantee the right to "arms." Section 53-5a-102 would also be amended to define "arms" to include firearms, batons, knives, nunchucks, swords, and other weapons that a person could reasonably own and use and which the legislature might find necessary to regulate or protect.

It would be unfortunate and unjust for a person to be charged and convicted of a crime for possessing a particular style of pocket knife while crossing an invisible political boundary. The change I suggest would ensure that any restrictions on all weapons would be uniform throughout the State just as it is now for for firearms.

I have learned that Utah State Representative Ryan Wilcox has introduced HB 271 which would prohibit a municipality, county, or local district from regulating the use of a knife unless specifically authorized. This would accomplish the same thing as my suggestion above -- but only for knives.

I believe that amending 53-5a-102 is a better way of achieving Representative Wilcox's objective than his effort to amend 17B-1-103 and enact 10-8-47.5 and 17-50-332.

I urge every Utah legislator to work with Representative Wilcox to ensure that the best possible legislation be passed this year to achieve his objective of protecting our right to arms. The other 49 States would do well to also ensure uniformity and constitutionality of arms laws.

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