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The House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice committee on Wednesday unanimously endorsed HB440 to commission a study of Utah suicides by firearms in coming months.
"Eighty-seven percent of suicides in Utah are committed with firearms," Rep. Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, told a panel of lawmakers on Wednesday. The study could result in recommendations for legislation to help with the state's growing youth-suicide problem, said King, the bill's sponsor.
The study would gather data on such things as where a victim obtained a gun, whether a background check was done on the purchaser and whether the victim had a history of a mental illness.
Collecting accurate data is crucial in making an informed decision, King said.
"It will be an important step in helping us legislators do our job."
Gun-rights advocate Clark Aposhian, of the Utah Shooting Sports Council, spoke in favor of the bill. "Right now Utah is seventh in the nation for suicides and that's not where we want to be."
Anna Fondario, of the Department of Health, said the agency already has a system in place to manage the data.
HB440 carries a $125,000 price tag.
Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clinton, said he hopes lawmakers make sure the bill gets funded.