By Chris Larson
Capital West News
SALT LAKE CITY — The House approved a bill seeking to alter the definitions of a deadly concealed weapon in a split vote, 61-11.
Rep. Brian Greene, R-Pleasant Grove, originally sponsored a version of the bill that attempted to remove the stand alone offense of having an object that had potential use as a deadly weapon but also deleted the section of code that made it so unloaded and secured firearms were not defined as “concealed deadly weapons.”
Before a House Committee hearing, Greene proposed an amendment to add the concealed firearms exception back into the code, and a second amendment to make it so that objects cannot be considered concealed or deadly weapon until it is either in a crime of some kind or a person is found to have intent to do so.
Greene said that he was cleaning up the criminal code to reflect the precedent of Utah Supreme Court case Miles v. Salt Lake City. According to court documents, Wade Miles, a homeless Salt Lake man, was charged and convicted, among other things, with possession of a concealed dangerous weapon after police found a pocket knife in a jacket of his in a shopping cart containing his possessions pursuant to his arrest for a confrontation with a UTA employee. He appealed to and was denied by the Utah Court of Appeals. But the Supreme Court ruled that his knife was not a deadly weapon because it many legally intended uses and wasn’t used to or in committing a crime.
“If I put a meat cleaver under my jacket, law enforcement may try to enforce the (concealed dangerous weapon) statute because they think it is inherently dangerous. But, the Supreme Court has said that is not dangerous until it has been used and then you analyze its use,” Greene said after the meeting. “Why should someone be guilty of a criminal offence for carrying that in a concealed way if they don’t use it or intend to use?”
The amendments to HB300, Greene’s bill, were released from the Legislative Counsel’s Office a half an hour before the meeting. This raised concerns in the committee that the proper stake holders like those involved in law enforcement had not had due chance to speak to the bill or work with Green on the issue.
Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, specifically called for a substitute bill because of the two amendments substantially changed the nature of the bill. He then said that the bill ought not to pass because he felt that unease from law enforcement over the bill previous to the amendment had not been properly addressed. He also said that committee was the place to clean up bills. He moved to hold the bill.
Rep. Earl Tanner, R–West Valley, and Peterson moved to have the bill sent out with a favorable recommendation citing that the bill was still the same in essence and that the amount of bills place before HB300 was to be heard again allowed for adequate time to consult stake holders, respectively.
The motion to send the bill on passed 5-4, with two members not in attendance.