Panel approves bill to restore gun rights
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A measure that gives a person treated for mental illness a chance to petition the courts to restore their right to possess a firearm passed through a Senate committee Monday afternoon.

Sen. Daniel Thatcher, R-West Valley City, said SB80 would only affect a "handful of people" but there needed to be a mechanism for a person who got "their life back together" to also regain a constitutional right to bear arms.

The measure would give Utah residents who were guilty of a crime and pleaded guilty by reason of insanity or who were involuntarily housed in mental institutions a chance to petition the court and prove they were cured without assistance from medication. The bill draws on federal requirements to appeal to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System to have a name removed from the restricted list.

"There isn't a judge on the planet that would look at someone who requires meds to be stable or someone who has not sought help or someone who is still suffering from a serious mental illness and say, 'Let's take that person off the restricted list,'" Thatcher said.

It passed 3-1, with Sen. Pat Jones, D-Holladay, casting the lone dissenting vote and questioning the wisdom of the proposal.

"I'd just say if you really want to be humane ... you give them treatment, not a gun," Jones said.

dmontero@sltrib.com

Twitter: @davemontero