Lawmaker proposes law punishing you if someone uses your gun to commit a crime

A Utah state lawmaker is suggesting that not only should people committing a crime with a weapon be punished, but those who loan out the firearm should be held accountable as well.

Democratic Rep.-elect Andrew Stoddard has proposed the idea that anyone intentionally lending out a firearm which is subsequently used in a crime should be subject to a lawsuit, according to KSL.com.

“We’re obviously not going to put you on the hook for something you had no control over,”Stoddard said on KSL Newsradio’s “Dave and Dujanovic Show” on Thursday. “This is for cases where people are very obviously loaning their gun out to people and doing it intentionally, and then someone uses that gun to commit a violent offense.”

The plan, which would see people being held responsible for someone else’s actions, is dubbed “Lauren’s Law” following the death of 21-year-old University of Utah senior Lauren McCluskey in October. McCluskey was shot to death by a parolee, 37-year-old Melvin Rowland, who killed her on campus before taking his own life, according to KSL.

McCluskey had ended the relationship after finding out Rowland was a sex offender who had given her a fake name, police said. Rowland reportedly borrowed the gun from a friend and said he wanted to take McCluskey target shooting, according to police.

“It will make people think twice before they loan their gun to someone else, or don’t leave it in a safe, or leave it in their car,” Stoddard told The Salt Lake Tribune. “Down the road, we can look at addressing the criminal issue, but I think right now there’s really a consensus that people who own guns, people who don’t, they’re all for responsible gun ownership.”

Rowland can’t be held accountable after his death, so the proposal is searching for a stand-in according to Clark Aposhian with the Utah Shooting Sports Council.

“He’s creating the lowest level yet of culpability to have someone other than the actual criminal stand in,” Aposhian said.

Existing Utah law holds that a person can sue under these kinds of circumstances, he noted, adding that while it is possible to sue the owner of a gun that was borrowed by someone to commit a crime, it was not necessarily easy. The bill, Stoddard said “gives a defined way to pursue civil damages,” and could cut down the time and resources it would take to pin down the right statute and file the suit, he said. “It made sense given the tragic facts of the case.”

According to KSL:

Stoddard said in an interview he wants to promote responsible gun ownership and cut down on what he calls “casual gun-sharing culture.”

In Utah, it’s a crime for a gun owner to loan the weapon to someone who the owner knows intends to carry out a crime or someone who’s on parole for a violent crime. Stoddard said his bill would apply to civil suits and not criminal cases, but he may consider proposing a change to the criminal code.

 

“It will make people think twice before they loan their gun to someone else, or don’t leave it in a safe, or leave it in their car,” Stoddard told The Salt Lake Tribune. “Down the road, we can look at addressing the criminal issue, but I think right now there’s really a consensus that people who own guns, people who don’t, they’re all for responsible gun ownership.”

Stoddard’s proposal was naturally celebrated by the left.

But his simplistic view of holding gun owners accountable for another’s decisions were summarily slammed on social media.

Frieda Powers

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