Utah is a state that is home to many firearm owners. Along with using guns for hunting purposes or at a shooting range, many Utahns simply own a gun for their own personal protection. While Utah laws allow most people to possess a gun, there are still a fair number of limitations on when, where, and how you can carry a gun in public. Furthermore, certain people, including those with criminal histories, may be prohibited from possessing a firearm in any instance. Below, our experienced Salt Lake City weapons crimes defense lawyer at Overson & Bugden walk you through the gun laws in the state and what your rights and responsibilities are as a firearm owner.
What Should I Do If I Am Stopped by a Utah Officer While in Possession of a Gun?
Under Utah law, you have no affirmative duty to let a police officer who has stopped you or approached you for questioning know that you are in possession of a firearm. However, if the officer asks you if you are in possession of a firearm, you are required to answer honestly. They may request to see if you have a concealed carry permit, although you are not actually required to have your permit on you as long as a valid one has been issued. The officer also may request to check that the gun is in compliance with any state laws, such as that it is unloaded if it is being carried openly.
Even though you are not technically required to do so, it is best to inform any officer you are interacting with that you are carrying a gun. If you do not, and they notice the gun at some point, they could become jittery and this could lead to safety issues.
Utah Open Carry Laws
In the state of Utah, it is legal in many situations to carry a gun openly even without a permit, although it usually must be unloaded. In order to openly carry a handgun, you must be at least 18 years of age and not be a “restricted person” under the statute. Most restricted people are those who have been convicted of particularly serious criminal acts, but it can also apply to those with certain mental disorders and other conditions. You cannot openly carry a gun in a state prohibited or federally prohibited place, which includes houses of worship, airports, court buildings, and mental health facilities.
If you are in your business or residence or a temporary residence like a campsite or a hotel room, you can openly carry a loaded gun. You can also openly carry a loaded gun in a vehicle in your possession or a vehicle in someone else’s possession if you have that person’s permission. However, in any other public place you can only carry an unloaded gun openly without a concealed carry permit. The state defines unloaded as being two actions away from being fireable.
Utah Concealed Carry Laws
In Utah, you are required to obtain a permit if you want to carry a firearm in a concealed manner. A concealed manner would be in any way where the gun is not visible to the public. For example, if you have the gun in a leg holster hidden under your pants or in a bag or purse, this would be considered conceal carry.
A concealed carry permit will be granted to anyone over the age of 21 who is not on the list restricted persons. If you are between 18 and 21 years of age, you can be issued a provisional permit. You also must take a required training course and complete a background check. Once you have been granted a permit, you are free to carry the gun with you anywhere on state property except for houses of worship that have prohibited guns. The permit does not apply to federal property such as airports. Once you have your concealed carry license, you are also free to openly carry a loaded gun in areas you would otherwise be prohibited from doing so.
Penalties for Illegal Gun Possession in Utah
Penalties for illegal gun possession will depend on whether you are carrying concealed or open and if the gun is loaded or unloaded. Under Utah Code § 76-10-504, it is illegal to carry a concealed gun without a conceal carry permit. If the gun is unloaded, it will be charged as a class B misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in jail and fines up to $1,000. If the gun is loaded, it will be charged as a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in jail and fines up to $2,500.
If you are openly carrying a gun that is loaded in a situation where only unloaded open carry is permitted, you will also face a class B misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in jail and fines up to $1,000. The same penalties will apply if you are found to be carrying a gun while drunk or carrying a gun while under the age of 18.
Finally, if you are a “restricted person” who is not permitted to carry a gun under Utah law, you can be charged with anything from a class A misdemeanor to a second-degree felony, depending on the reason you are on the restricted persons list. For example, if you have been convicted of a violent felony such as homicide, and you are found in possession of a gun, you can be charged with a second-degree felony and face up to 15 years in prison and $10,000 in fines.
If You Are Concerned About Complying with Utah Gun Laws, Call Our Experienced Legal Team Today
Although Utah has some of the nation’s laxest gun laws, this does not mean that there are no laws at all. If you are planning to carry a gun in public, you should consult with an experienced Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyer like those at Overson & Bugden to see what steps you need to take and how to comply with state regulations. If you have been charged with illegal possession of a firearm, our attorneys are here to represent you. We have mounted successful defenses against firearm offenses throughout the state. For a free consultation, call us today at (801) 758-2287.