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Utah Bill Would End Gun Payments

Josey1Josey1 Member Posts: 15,758
edited January 2002 in General Discussion
Bill Would End Gun Payments Wednesday, January 30, 2002 BY GREG BURTONTHE SALT LAKE TRIBUNE Utah doesn't charge a fee to vote, speak or worship, so the state shouldn't charge a fee to buy a firearm, say advocates for a bill eliminating background check fees that won preliminary approval Tuesday. House Bill 183 would do away with the $7.50 charge assessed at the point of all licensed gun sales in Utah. The fee covers the cost of reviewing state domestic violence records, a list of outstanding warrants and protective orders and some felony convictions not main- tained as a record on federal databases. Those checks would continue, but the cost would be shifted from would-be gun owners to state taxpayers in general. "We find on general principle that it is repugnant to ask law abiding citizens to pay a fee to maintain a database for criminals," said Charles Hardy of Gun Owners of Utah. "We should not be charging people to prove they are innocent." On a straight 7-4 party vote, Republicans on the House Judiciary Standing Committee pushed the bill, sponsored by Rep. Morgan Philpot, R-Sandy, to the House floor. "The concern is who will pay for this," said Bureau of Criminal Identification Director Nanette Rolfe. "It may take a little longer to complete our other tasks and there is a concern that other programs will have to be minimized." But constitutional rights that impose a financial burden -- the expense of putting on an election, for example -- are best borne by society at large, not individual users, Philpot said. "Rights should not be taxed," he told the committee. "When you stray from that principle and regulate one, you invite regulation and infringement on another." The measure has been met with some hesitation due to the cost of administering the mandatory criminal checks without fees. If passed, lawmakers would have to either fund an additional budget appropriation or mandate other cutbacks at the Bureau of Criminal Identification, Rolfe said. Last year, 65,696 gun transactions produced $492,720 in fees, according to the bureau. "Despite all the sound and fury . . . the gun owners I know are very individualistic and they don't want to feed at the public trough," said Rep. Scott Daniels, D-Salt Lake City, who opposed the measure. Philpot's bill would not affect federal background checks, which are conducted in concert with state checks prior to licensed gun sales. HB183 also requires the Bureau of Criminal Identification to immediately destroy all background checks "if the person receiving the gun is not prohibited from purchasing, possessing, or transferring the firearm under state or federal law." Currently, BCI has 20 days to destroy the records. House members delayed debate on a second bill aimed at streamlining the process of obtaining a concealed carry permit, also sponsored by Philpot, until questions over its fiscal impact can be addressed. House Bill 219 would eliminate the permit fees for people with a concealed carry license. According to analysts, it would cost the state $1.14 million next fiscal year and $1.35 million two years from now to continue the program without the fees. Because of the cost, Philpot said the chances of the concealed-carry bill passing " were almost nil." [email protected]
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