When the 1990 Legislature convenes in January, lawmakers will take aim at paramilitary organizations and criminal street gangs.
Minority Whip Frank Pignanelli, D-Salt Lake, has prefiled HB31, which calls for a criminal penalty for anyone who trains or is trained to use weapons to injure or kill someone else or to foment public disorder.And Rep. Allan C. Rushton, D-West Valley, has prefiled HB33, which defines criminal gangs and makes it a third-degree felony to participate in any gang "knowing that its members engage in or have engaged in a pattern of criminal gang activity."
According to Pignanelli's bill, "any person who teaches or demonstrates to any other person the use, application or making of any firearm, explosive, incendiary device, or technique, intending to cause injury or death to any person, or intending that it will be unlawfully employed for use in a civil disorder is guilty of a third-degree felony."
The bill adds that any person who assembles with one or more persons for the purpose of training others or being instructed in the use of weapons or explosives, knowing the weapons will be unlawfully used or to further civil disorder, is also guilty of a third-degree felony.
"We are not trying to prevent law abiding citizens from getting instruction for self defense or hunting," Pignanelli said. "But we do want to prevent individuals from training to use and using weapons to attack minorities."
The bill, which passed the Judiciary Committee by unanimous vote, was drafted at the request of an anti-defamation league, Pignanelli said, adding that rumors are that a white-supremacist organization wants to relocate to Utah.
"We can't prevent them from believing what they want to. We can't prevent them from coming to Utah," Pignanelli said. "But we can prevent them from forming into paramilitary units and training to attack those they consider undesirable."
The law does not apply to peace officers performing their official duties, or to hunter safety courses, he said. Nor would it apply to self-defense training.
According to Rushton's anti-gang bill, it is a third-degree felony if a person promotes or assists in any criminal conduct by gang members, but does not commit the crime himself.
If the gang member is convicted of a first-degree felony in connection with the gang charge, the minimum-mandatory sentence is 15 years.