Can Police Stop You for Open Carry in Salt Lake City?

When it comes to gun laws, Utah has some of the laxest in the nation. Dating back to its early days as a Wild West frontier state, Utah has a long and proud tradition of encouraging gun ownership with few restrictions. That tradition continues today, although this does not mean that there are not limitations on gun ownership rights in the state. As a gun owner, it is important to know Utah’s rules and restrictions for openly carrying a gun and possessing a gun in general so that you do not end up charged with a crime. Below, our experienced Salt Lake City criminal defense attorneys explain what you need to know to avoid getting into trouble with the law for openly carrying a firearm.

Persons Restricted from Carrying a Firearm in SLC

The first thing that you need to know is, despite Utah’s generally loose gun control laws, there are groups of people who are prohibited under the law from ever owning or possessing a firearm. They are divided into two lists—Category I restricted individuals and Category II restricted individuals. Category I restricted individuals found in possession of a firearm will be charged with a third-degree felony, while Category II individuals will be charged with a second-degree felony.

A Category I restricted person will meet one or more of the following requirements:

  • Has been convicted of a violent felony, as defined in the code
  • Currently on probation or parole for a felony
  • Currently on parole from a secure detention facility
  • Has been adjudicated delinquent for a crime that would have been a violent felony if an adult had committed it, but only within the last 10 years

A Category II restricted person will meet one or more of the following requirements:

  • Has been convicted of any felony
  • Has been adjudicated delinquent for any crime that would have been a felony if an adult committed it, but only within the last 7 years
  • Is currently unlawfully using a controlled substance
  • Was found not guilty by reason of insanity at felony trial
  • Was declared mentally incompetent to stand trial for a felony offense
  • Has been adjudicated as mentally defective or has been committed to a mental institution
  • Are an undocumented alien
  • Has had a dishonorable discharge from the armed forces
  • Has renounced their U.S. citizenship

Open Carry Laws in Salt Lake City

Open carry is generally permitted in Utah, although there are some important caveats that you should be aware of. First, open carry is generally only permitted for unloaded guns when you are venturing into public places. In your own home, a business that you own, or a car that you own or where you have the permission of the owner to carry a loaded firearm, you are permitted to openly carry a loaded firearm without a permit. In other instances, however, open carry without a permit is restricted to the carrying of unloaded firearms.

This begs the very important question of what exactly constitutes an “unloaded” firearm in the state of Utah. Under Utah law, an unloaded gun is defined as being more than two mechanical movements away from being fired. It cannot have a round or a bullet loaded in the chamber of the gun, but you are permitted to carry ammunition on your person while also carrying the unloaded gun. If you are found to be openly carrying a loaded firearm without, you could be charged with a gun possession crime in Salt Lake City and face serious penalties.

Open carry is not permitted on the campus of a K-12 school. It is also not permitted in places of worship or private residences that have indicated they do not wish guns to be brought onto their premises. A private employer is also allowed to create regulations that prevent employees from carrying a weapon into the workplace. While employees can be subject to work-related sanctions or even termination for violating this policy, they cannot be subject to criminal sanctions. Furthermore, employers cannot prevent employees from keeping a loaded gun in their private vehicle in the parking lot.

Concealed Carry Permits in Salt Lake City

Anyone over the age of 21 in Utah who does not fall on one of the restricted persons lists is permitted to be issued a concealed carry permit by the state. To be issued such a permit, you must undergo a criminal background check and take a gun safety course approved by the state. If you are between 18-20 years old, you can be issued a provisional concealed carry permit.

A concealed carry permit allows you to carry a gun in public in a concealed way, such as in a leg holster underneath your jeans or in your backpack. The gun may be loaded or unloaded. In addition, a concealed carry permit allows you to openly carry a loaded weapon in public. This permit does not apply to properties controlled by the federal government such as airports, or to state-restricted areas like places of worship that have indicated they do not wish to have guns on their property. It does apply to bars, but if you are intoxicated, under Utah law you may not carry a firearm. Intoxication is defined under state law as having a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .05% or more.

If You are Facing Criminal Issues Related to Possession of a Firearm, Call Our Experienced Salt Lake City Attorneys Today

Since Utah is a state with relatively few restrictions on gun ownership and open carry, you may be lulled into a false sense of security where you feel you can possess a gun in any situation without consequences. However, this is not true, and many gun-related crimes can lead to severe penalties such as high fines and long jail sentences. A Salt Lake City unlawful discharge of a firearm lawyer can help if you have been charged with a gun crime, or are concerned about whether or not you are permitted to open carry. Our knowledgeable Utah criminal defense attorneys at Overson & Bugden are here to help. Call us today at (801) 758-2287 for a free consultation.