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Home > Alerts & Updates > Update for 1/26/2015: Last Year's Trojan Horse (HB 276) & Lessons for Utah Gun Owners

Click on picture to enlarge.

Update for 2/10/15: House statutator Fred Cox also confirmed UT Gun Rights's threat analysis of HB 276.  To read his quote, click here.

Last Year's Trojan Horse (HB 276) & Lessons for Utah Gun Owners

(Update for 1/26/15): During last year's statutory session, UT Gun Rights warned that HB 276, "Violence Against Open Carry Gun Owners", would put open carry gun owners at significant risk.  From the "threat briefing" synopsis:

"Did you (or a friend) strap on a rifle for a rally/hearing, or to sell outside a gun show?  If HB 276 passes, unholstered open carry gun owners will be targeted for violent harassment and arrest.  Other gun owners will be at increased risk of abuse as well."

Despite objections detailed in the threat briefing, HB 276 passed and was celebrated by various organizations as a "win" for Utah gun owners.  Unfortunately, gun owners were betrayed by these organizations — again.  The 2015 session starts today (January 26), and this article is designed to assist you in detecting future betrayals of your rights.

"Have we got a deal for you gun owners!"
HB 276 Handlers Repeatedly Reveal Their Intent

UT Gun Rights' threat briefing included the following assertion:

"The language 'holstered or encased' was specifically written to exclude firearms that are not encased or holstered.  If HB 276 is passed, citizens who desire to safely and peaceably carry rifles in a 'public place' may expect to be threatened and possibly violently attacked and arrested by government agents."

Organizations like the Utah Shooting Sports Council and GoUtah! publicly disagreed with this assessment.

These organizations ignore the question-answer discussion on the senate floor wherein HB 276 handlers again admitted the real agenda.  Beginning at 00:40:45 of the senate recording, statutator Jim Dabakis asked the following:

"So, my question is, a mother with 2 or 3 children gets on a UTA bus or a train and somebody gets on with a legal AK-47 and they're full of combat uniforms and they've got a mask on and they've got a backpack, and the children are frightened.  [The] children are very frightened and the woman with the children and the family is also very frightened.  Does this in any way preclude that person from getting on the bus?  Or does this allow that person to brandish an AK-47 in a way that is not aimed at anybody?"

HB 276 senate sponsor Scott Jenkins replied:

"Well it allows that person to comply with the same law that exists today. So, yes, the weapons that they could carry before they can carry now.  What this does is this speaks to the right of the individual who has the weapon with him.  So it doesn't change any of what you just said." [bold added] 

Statutator Dabakis:

"So, if I may do a follow-up mister president.  So, this bill doesn't address the fear, concern, bordering on very serious concern, of this woman and her children getting on the bus with somebody in combat fatigues and carrying an AK-47.  That was perfectly legal and will continue to be perfectly legal." [bold added]

Senate sponsor Jenkins: "Yes, that's correct." [bold added]

Statutator Dabakis: "Thank you."

At this point, house statutator Curtis Oda and senate statutator Curtis Bramble approached Jenkins and corrected him.  Jenkins then modified his previous answer:

"Yeah, that's true.  They [Oda and Bramble] just reminded me, this law has to do with a weapon that is holstered and an AK-47 isn't holstered." [bold added]

Statutator Jim Dabakis: "That a real big holster?" [bold added]

Senate sponsor Scott Jenkins:

"Real big one. But, it doesn't prevent an officer of the law who was riding there from going up and talking to this individual, and saying, 'Hey, you're kind of out for a hunt, huh? What are you doing?' That would not prevent him from doing that." [bold added]

What did Jenkins mean by that?  Prior to HB 276, while disorderly conduct statute was sufficiently vague to be abused by police on the street, it was technically legal to open carry an AK-47 in public without a holster.  According to Jenkins, under HB 276 they would now need a "real big holster".

Would this bill impact the safety of a gun owner who chose to open carry an unencased rifle or not?  Did Jenkins even comprehend what he was talking about and what he was sponsoring?

With friends like these, who needs enemies?
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If Jenkins was clueless, his pushers and handlers were not so naïve.  Senate statutator and "friendly amender" to HB 276, Mark Madsen, further clarified Jenkins' admission beginning at 00:44:22 of the same senate recording:

"Thank you, mister president.  I'd like to just briefly explain my vote and in doing so add a little bit to the conversation that took place.  If it was an AK-47 it would have to be encased.  So it would have to be carried in a case.  So the idea that it could be brandished is not something that should be concerned about.  And also if somebody was dressed in a way, it says in the absence of any other element the possession of a gun alone does not give rise to being sequestered by law enforcement.  But anything else, if they're dressed suspiciously, if they're dressed in combat, or if they're dressed like a thug, or if they're dressed... any other element would then enable the law enforcement to engage that person and even detain them.  But it says in the absence of any other elements.  So, that's one of the reasons I'm very comfortable with this because it has to be holstered or encased and because any other element would trigger the additional scrutiny of law enforcement and would not prohibit them from engaging that person.  So I just wanted to give my colleague from Salt Lake [referring back to statutator Dabakis] that information so he can reverse his vote if he wants to.  I vote aye." [bold added]

In other words, Madsen was "very comfortable" because open carry rifle owners must now "encase" them.  At 00:36:40 of subsequent house recording, house sponsor Curtis Oda stated the following in his support that the house concur with the senate's amendments to HB 276:

"The language actually cleaned a lot of things up and it makes it a lot clearer on intent."

Contrary to supporters' claims, the intent had been quite clear to those paying attention.  Oda, who also chaired the house committee that approved HB 276, revealed the following before it passed that hearing:

"Furthering the question, Representative Merrill Nelson (Republican – Grantsville) asked, 'If we have someone come into a legislative hearing, carrying a rifle, is that disorderly conduct?'  To which Oda replied, 'If they do it to make that kind of a political statement, and they're trying to raise concern, it very well could be. This bill does not prevent a situation like that from being considered to be that.'" [bold added]
Source: "Oda Says Firearms in Public Do Not Constitute Disorderly Conduct," Michael Orton, Utah Political Capitol, March 11, 2014.

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Keep in mind that last year, open carry gun owners did come into hearings, and attended rallies, with rifles slung on their backs.  As UT Gun Rights had warned, the previous sponsor of HB 276, statutator Paul Ray, was unhappy with that open expression of rights, and more forcefully declared of the bill:

"So if someone is carrying a gun around in their hand they can be cited. This bill really clarifies things and gives them an outline to go by of in this situation you can write a ticket and in this situation you can't. If they strap a rifle onto their back and walk into JC Penney, you can be cited for disorderly [conduct], WHICH YOU OUGHT TO BE. But if you have your handgun holstered then you are ok." [bold and bold caps added]
Source: "Proposed bill to further define open carry laws," by Mary Richards, KSL.com, Jan. 3, 2014.

Speaking of his nearly identical bill in 2013, Ray shared the following:

"Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, sponsor of HB268, said if the bill [HB 268 in the 2013 session] had been law during last week's so-called 'Gun Day' at the Legislature, a man who brandished an assault rifle next to a child at a committee hearing could have been cited."

"'This is a disorderly conduct bill. This bill [HB 268 in the 2013 session] is not about allowing people to open carry,'" Ray said." [bold added]
Source: "Gov. Gary Herbert says he doesn't like 'constitutional carry' bill," Lisa Riley Roche, Deseret News, Feb. 28 2013.

HB 276's handlers repeatedly and consistently revealed their intent to initiate an unjustified attack on open carry gun owners.  Citizens in states like Michigan, Texas, Washington, and elsewhere openly carry rifles to their state capitols and elsewhere as a form of peaceful political protest, and to remind the government that it is subordinate to the people.

By passage of HB 276, the state of Utah and its anti-gun collaborators have established by force that the people here are subordinate to government.

Remember this fiasco?
To learn more, click here.
"Everybody's Good With This"?

In the final hours of the session, and without time for the public to fully assess them, so-called "friendly" amendments to HB 276 were proposed and passed that only worsened the bill.  According to the previously-cited senate floor recording, at 00:39:45, senate statutator and "friendly amender" Mark Madsen stated:

"I'm supposed to tell everybody [to] disregard all the 'no amendment' alerts you've been getting from the NRA and from [Utah] Shooting Sports Council.  I'm here to tell you that this is an acceptable amendment to the NRA and [Utah] Shooting Sports Council.  We've worked with them.  But they had sent out that 'no amendment' language or warning to everybody and I guess they trusted me to be the bearer of the nullification of those alerts.  So everybody's good with this.  The gun community's good with this, and so I would urge your support."  [bold added]

Indeed, many supposedly representing the gun owner community did support this bill, including (links to their articles are hyperlinked as well):

* GoUtah!

* Libertas Institute

* National Rifle Association (NRA)

* Utah Grassroots

* Utah Gun Exchange

* Utah Shooting Sports Council (USSC)

Not "everyone" in the "gun community" supported HB 276, however, and neither was UT Gun Rights the only public opponent.  Many concerned citizens contacted statutators and the above organizations to argue against HB 276 on the grounds that it was a gun control bill and a betrayal of their open carry brothers and sisters.

Ironically, there were no "nay" votes to Madsen's amendment in the senate.  And for its final passage, many traditionally anti-gun Republicans and Democrats jumped on board to ensure its overwhelming passage (27 yeas, 1 nay, 4 absent/not voting).

Citizens who interacted with statutators reported that these "friendly" amendments were added to make the bill even more palatable to anti-gun organizations like the secretive Utah Law [sic] Enforcement Legislative Committee, which reversed its earlier position and publicly supported the final bill.

Even they reached "consensus".
Even the notorious Utah League of Cities & Towns (ULCT), a United Nations-like conglomerate that zealously pursues gun control, was conspicuously neutral on HB 276.  Consider this from the ULCT's "2014 General Legislative Session" wrap-up:

"After negotiations with the Utah Police Chiefs Association, Utah Sheriffs Association, the Utah Attorney General's Office, and ULCT, we came to a consensus on this legislation. As such, we don't expect future legislation." [bold added]

Are you comforted that three organizations publicly exposed for supporting gun control (see "Utah Police Chiefs Overwhelmingly Support Gun Control," and, "Why Did Utah's Sheriffs Oppose HB 76?") all shared a kumbaya moment over a supposed gun rights bill?

Could it be that the ULCT doesn't expect future bills on this issue because these committed gun control advocates got what they expected from HB 276?

Distrust & Verify versus Lazy Trust

In the 2013 Utah Government Corruption Report, UT Gun Rights warned that false friends pretend to oppose your enemies, and will sometimes put on a good show to maintain favor with you. But in moments of political crisis and at other times, they will serve their true masters and act in direct contradiction to their public speeches and statements.

Such betrayal can seem baffling, because many people can't imagine anyone being so manipulative and deceitful.  Can they possibly be THAT two-faced and corrupt? Yes, they can.

And therein lies a vital lesson for Utah gun owners; one that UT Gun Rights will repeatedly attempt to convey.  It is important to remain apprehensive about those who tell you things you want to hear.

"I could learn a thing or two from you statutator folks in Utah!"
It is unwise to accept any individual or organization as the authority on a bill or issue.  All humans are fallible, and any person or group of persons might, at any time, make significant errors or even purposely attempt to mislead you.

These cautions also apply to UT Gun Rights, and it has set strict organizational policies to encourage you to continuously scrutinize the information provided to reach your own conclusion.

YOU are solely responsible to examine the evidences and opinions, and to determine the facts and your course of political action.  As the preeminent American revolutionary Thomas Paine expressed it:

"Those who are not in the representation, know as much of the nature of business as those who are… Every man is a proprietor in government, and considers it a necessary part of his business to understand. It concerns his interest, because it affects his property. He examines the cost, and compares it with the advantages; and above all, he does not adopt the slavish custom of following what in other governments are called LEADERS…"

Will you be content to be "led" by various organizations professing your best interests?  Or are you willing to chart a different course — your own course — by creating your personal political agenda and by carefully scrutinizing all the information you receive?

In creating your personal political agenda, consider carefully how an ethical and legitimate government would operate.  UT Gun Rights has created its draft Affirmative Agenda for your review and critique.

Again, the 2015 annual statutory session begins today (January 26).  UT Gun Rights offers its 2015 Bill Tracking Page: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, as one perspective for you to carefully scrutinize.

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