Facebook Twitter

GUN-CONTROL TASK FORCE TAKING SHAPE

SHARE GUN-CONTROL TASK FORCE TAKING SHAPE

Gov. Mike Leavitt will wait until Monday to select the last member of a 15-member task force that will study proposed gun-control laws and draft legislation for the 1995 session.

But already, the 14 members chosen for the legislative task force are raising some eyebrows. "Interesting," said Rep. Michael Waddoups, R-Bennion, of the governor's appointments."Some, like (Department of Public Safety Director) Doug Bodrero, were expected. Others are surprises. The best thing is that (Salt Lake City Police Chief) Reuben Ortega and (Mayor) Deedee Corradini are not on the list."

Many lawmakers are still upset with the hard-ball politicking done by Corradini and Ortega to stop a bill that would have banned Salt Lake City and other communities from passing gun-control ordinances more restrictive than the state.

Of the task force's 15 members, legislative leadership chose six, all of whom are lawmakers. Four of the six can be considered adamantly opposed to gun-control laws. Waddoups, who sponsored legislation in February that would have prohibited cities from enacting gun-control laws more restrictive than the state, will serve on the task force, as will conservative Rep. Reese Hunter, R-Murray; Sen. LeRay McAllister, R-Orem; and Sen. Alarik Myrin, R-Alta-mont, Duchesne County.

They will be joined by Rep. David Jones, D-Salt Lake and a sponsor of past gun-control measures, and Sen. Winn Richards, considered a moderate Democrat. Sen. Robert Steiner, D-Salt Lake and a champion of control legislation in the Senate, was not selected for the task force.

In addition to Bodrero, Leavitt selected West Valley Mayor Gearld Wright, Cedar City Police Chief Pete Hansen, Wasatch County Sheriff Mike Spanos, Weber County Sheriff Craig Dearden and community activists Colleen Minson and Scott Wyatt. The most controversial choice was that of one-time National Rifle Association lobbyist Lloyd Selleneit to the task force to represent "shooting interests."

Leavitt's last choice will represent "hunting interests." "I hope he hurries up. We're ready to get started," Waddoups said.

"I tried to appoint clear-thinking people who represented no particular bias," Leavitt said. "In one case (Selleneit), there is a bias. But he was selected to fill a slot designated by the Legislature as shooting interests."

Attorney General Jan Graham believes that with the exception of Selleneit Leavitt's appointees are, by and large, good ones who will render balanced judgments. But she admits she "dropped the ball" in not consulting with Leavitt on his choices for the task force.

"I think everyone knows where I stand on the issue," said Graham, who lobbied hard for laws that would allow local communities to pass their own gun-control ordinances. That kind of local flexibility was a top priority of the Utah Sheriffs Association and the Utah Association of Chiefs of Police.

Graham was far less complementary of the Legislature's choices for the task force. "No question they stacked it (against gun control)," she said.

Lawmakers were poised to pass Waddoups' bill, but a last-minute compromise allowed Salt Lake City to keep its restrictive gun-control laws on the books but places a moratorium on other such laws until the task force studies various legislative proposals.

"We will never have consensus on this issue," Leavitt admitted. "But hopefully we will find some room for agreement."

Leavitt has always maintained the state should set parameters within which cities and counties operate, but the state should not set the values of those communities. "If a community wants to ban the sale of cop-killer bullets in their town, that ought to be an option the town could address and we as a state do not want to address," Leavitt said.

Waddoups predicted the volatile nature of gun control will generate legislation on both sides of the gun-control issue. "I hope there will be some consensus, like on the concealed-weapon-permit issue," he said. "But beyond that may be expecting too much."