Utah Lawmaker To Introduce ‘Red Flag’ Legislation

Feb 13, 2020, 11:26 PM
Members of the Utah State Legislature open the 2020 General Session. (Jed Boal/KSL TV)...
FILE: Members of the Utah State Legislature at the 2020 General Session. (Jed Boal/KSL TV)
(Jed Boal/KSL TV)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – A Utah legislator has sponsored a “red flag” law that failed each of the last two years, but Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, will sponsor a similar bill for a personal reason this legislative session.

Red flag laws in other states allow judges to order gun owners who are considered a danger to themselves or others to temporarily give up their firearms.

“For me, it’s a very personal issue,” Weiler said.

Weiler is open about the way mental illness has troubled his family. Twenty years ago, his sister tried to take her own life several times. He said his family needed better options when she as going through that mental health crisis.

“We were all aware of it,” he said. “But we didn’t know what to do. Eventually, she got a hold of a gun and shot herself in the head, and she lived, amazingly enough.”

Now, KaSondra Weiler is disabled, still mentally ill and a ward of the state in South Carolina, where she lives in a nursing home.

“I just think all of that could have been avoided if our family would have had a tool like this to maybe keep her away from guns when we knew she was having a mental health crisis,” said Weiler. “We were all discussing, ‘What can we do? What can we do to help her?’ She was an adult. There weren’t a lot of options available.”

He thinks the extreme risk protective order he will propose in his bill would have given his family a tool they could have used.

“I’m going to talk to my senate colleagues,” he said. “I’m not going to run this if it’s just going to die.”

Weiler said his bill differs from those proposed in the Utah House of Representatives in the past because families would get the case screened by law enforcement before taking it to a judge for a ruling.

Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, will sponsor a red flag bill for a very personal reason this legislative session.

“Let them screen it out. If it’s a frivolous case, they can screen it out and then let law enforcement initiate the action if they are convinced that there is a risk,” he said.

Weiler said he is not anti-gun and does not want to violate anyone’s civil liberties.

“Most of these suicide decisions are made within a matter of seconds or minutes,” he said. “If the gun is readily available, it’s used. And if it’s not, sometimes people recover and they’re grateful that they’ve had a second or third chance.”

He expected his bill to be numbered and ready for discussion in the senate in a week or two.

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Utah Lawmaker To Introduce ‘Red Flag’ Legislation