Salt Lake County DA Sim Gill: No more plea deals for gun-related crimes

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill. File Photo: Gephardt Daily

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Oct. 20, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said in a press conference Wednesday morning that plea deals will no longer be offered for gun-related crimes in the county.

Joining Gill at the press conference to discuss gun crime were Salt Lake County Sheriff Rosie Rivera and Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown.

“In 2020, a year of pandemic protests and elections, people purchased more than 23 million guns, a 66 percent increase, since the 2019 gun purchases,” Gill said. “We have seen an uptick in burglaries and car thefts and in the prevalence of guns in those committing criminal activities. Utah has felt that impact of gun violence, Salt Lake County has felt the impact of that gun violence, and homicide rates have increased from 2019 to 2020.”

Last year, the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office screened 87 homicides and attempted homicides, Gill said. This year, 78 homicides and attempted homicides have already been screened, with more than two months of the year to go, he said.

Almost two-thirds of homicides in Utah in 2020 were with the use of a firearm, Gill said.

“Effective immediately, starting today, no criminal charge arising from the use of a gun or relating to an unlawful use or possession of a gun in the commission of a crime will be reduced as a part of any plea bargain,” Gill said. “Put another way, there will be no more plea bargains for gun crimes in Salt Lake County. Furthermore, sentencing recommendations will include jail, or prison, recommendations consistent with the defendant’s criminal history or other considerations.”

He added: “So very simple, going forward, if you’re going to commit crime in Salt Lake County with the possession of a gun in a violent crime, you will be aggressively prosecuted.”

Gill also asked that lawful gun owners keep their guns stored and safe to better ensure that stolen firearms don’t end up on the street.

“We’re seeing an uptick in home burglaries and vehicle burglaries, and a lot of the guns, and this is really one, one of the asks that all of us have collectively to lawful gun owners, is to really store and secure those weapons, because we’re seeing them also being stolen out of vehicles when they’re left unattended, overnight, etc.,” Gill said.

Rivera added in her remarks: “Our whole goal in law enforcement is to keep the public safe. We can’t keep our public safe if we have criminals out on the street who continually are committing these crimes. One thing we are finding, with the new data, is that many of these individuals don’t have a violent criminal history, so what does that tell you? That means they are finding guns that are available to them and they’re using them. We know that out on the street, guns are being seized by the Metro Gang Unit in large numbers.”

She said 137 guns were seized last year, and 120 guns have been seized so far in 2021.

Later in the press conference, Rivera added: “What the message is, is the fact that the district attorney’s office is willing to take that next step and go even further and say we are going to go after you. We’re going to prosecute you, we’re not going to let you plead down these gun cases, because this has to stop at some point we can’t continue at this pace. Our trend is going high, it’s going to continue to continue to rise if we don’t step in and do something.”

Brown said that fighting gun violence involves the entire community “chipping in and being ready to stand up. Fighting gun violence takes people being brave enough to call us when they have information about a gun crime. It takes people saying, enough is enough and not in our community. Gun violence can and does impact all of us.”

He said that in 2021 so far, SLCPD has booked nearly 500 firearms into evidence.

“Many of those firearms, if left in the wrong hands, could have been used to threaten, coerce, injure, and even worse, kill. Our squads and patrol officers are seizing illegal firearms in our parks, in our businesses, in our entertainment districts, at home, at schools, in cars, airports, and nearby playgrounds. We cannot continue to allow this to happen.”

Brown added: “Today, I have an ‘ask.’ And that ask is to join us. Help us fight, and help us curb gun violence and to hold people accountable. I cannot stress enough, if you hear the sounds of gunfire in your communities, report it. Don’t assume somebody else is doing that. Make that call right away so that our patrol officers can come to the scene, collect the evidence, whatever needs to be collected and that we can start that investigation as soon as we can. Every lead is important and could be crucial in solving an unsolved case, including an unsolved homicide.”

Later in the press conference, Brown said: “We’re all about responsible and safe gun ownership. But right now, we’re finding that too many people, for whatever reason, have guns in their possession, and there are no consequences or there haven’t been consequences for bad behavior, or being able to interrupt that. That’s the message today. Going forward, if you have that gun, and you’re going to use that gun in the commission of a crime, especially a violent crime, there are consequences for what you’re elected to do in our community, it’s going to end.”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here