Utah bill would allow the accused to keep gun

HB395 • Sandstrom says it's a injustice to take weapons from folks charged with crime.
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A bill that would allow those with firearms to retain possession of them when charged with a crime — but not yet convicted — cleared the Utah House unanimously Monday.

Rep. Stephen Sandstrom, R-Orem, carried HB395 because he felt current law violated a person's presumption of innocence guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution and that the state was acting too quickly to require firearms be removed from gun owners who are simply charged with a crime.

He said being charged doesn't equate to guilt. "It's a huge misjustice in our system," Sandstrom said.

His measure also tackled the sale of firearms by a person convicted of a crime — as well as restrictions on who can buy guns.

Right now, it is a felony to give or sell firearms if an individual is convicted of a crime. Sandstrom's proposal would grant those individuals a chance to comply with the law without having that additional felony added just because they were trying to comply with the law.

Sandstrom's proposal also says an undocumented immigrant could not be the recipient of a firearms transfer. But it didn't address how the person selling the gun could verify the legal status of the buyer.

The proposal passed 68-0 and goes to the Senate.

dmontero@sltrib.comTwitter: @davemontero