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Legislation aiming to keep guns out of the hands of people convicted of domestic violence or who have protective or restraining orders against them is off to a strong start in the Utah Capitol.
The House Law Enforcement Committee unanimously endorsed HB206 on Friday, sending it to the full House for consideration.
The legislation may not have prevented the murder of 23-year-old Katherine Peralta by her estranged husband in December in the parking lot of ARUP Laboratories at the University of Utah. But it would be a start in protecting such women, said Peralta's father, Carl Calloway, who testified in favor of HB206.
"This bill might not have saved her specifically. But there needs to be bills like this to start making some changes," he said. Calloway added that the family of his son-in-law "was in denial" that he presented a danger after Katherine informed her husband that she wanted a divorce, so such legislation could mandate action. Richard Peralta, 25, fatally shot himself after taking his wife's life.
House Minority Leader Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, is sponsoring HB206 and said it mirrors a federal law with the same restrictions.
He said local police and prosecutors generally do not enforce federal laws, and Utah has relatively few federal officers who could do it. So he said putting the same restrictions into state law will bring more enforcement resources.
King noted that 40 percent of homicides in Utah are related to domestic violence. He said when a gun is in a home where domestic violence incidents have occurred, the odds of the women there being killed are five times higher.