CRIME

‘Lauren’s Law’ Aims to Hold Gun Owners More Accountable

Dec 20, 2018, 8:59 PM | Updated: 9:02 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – A bill has been proposed in memory of murdered University of Utah student Lauren McCluskey.

“Lauren’s Law” would add additional responsibility to gun owners, after her killer, Melvin Rowland, used a borrowed gun for her murder.

37-year-old Melvin Roland

37-year-old Melvin Roland

Andrew Stoddard, the representative elect of District 44, purposefully opened the bill file Wednesday, immediately following the university’s independent report into her death.

Police say the person who lent Lauren’s killer the gun genuinely thought he was going to use it to teach her how to shoot, not to kill her. Charges aren’t expected.

Currently the Murray City prosecutor, Stoddard’s idea would give some justice to the McCluskey family.

Days after her daughter’s death Jill McCluskey tweeted, “The person who lent Lauren’s killer the gun needs to be prosecuted. It is a great responsibility to own a gun.”

Lauren McCluskey died Monday. Photo credit: Steve C. Wilson, University of Utah

Lauren McCluskey. Photo credit: Steve C. Wilson, University of Utah

“This seemed like the way to address it when I saw (the tweet from) Lauren McCluskey’s mom that she wasn’t able to get any retribution from the owner of the gun,” said Stoddard, who worked as a victim’s advocate and campaigned to make changes to protect folks against domestic violence.

Upon tweeting about his filing, Lauren’s mom retweeted him with a thank you. The two have yet to speak in person.

Opponents of the bill say, in this case, the gun owner isn’t to blame, the murderer is.

“We can’t prosecute him because he killed himself, so what instead we’re doing is we’re trying to find a placeholder that has a tangential association with the bad guy and heaping everything on to them to make them accountable,” said Clark Aposhian, chair of the Utah Shooting Sports Council.

Aposhian says the Utah Shooting Sports Council sees the tragedy, but they say this isn’t the right way forward.

“If someone had any knowledge, even a passing knowledge, that someone might commit a crime, that someone was a prohibited person prosecute them criminally, civilly, with the existing laws we have, but for someone just transferring a firearm, no.”

“Anytime you have a gun, something that can cause great damage that you need to be responsible for it, and I get the circumstances that this person loaned the gun under, but ultimately they made the decision to loan the gun to someone,” said Stoddard.

We’ll keep an eye on this proposal in the New Year.

Related: Slain Student’s Family Says University Failed To Protect Her

 

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‘Lauren’s Law’ Aims to Hold Gun Owners More Accountable