Can Police Stop You for Open Carry in Utah?

Salt Lake City criminal lawyer

Utah has a proud history of gun ownership dating back to its days as a frontier state. While Utah gun laws are some of the least strict in the nation, there are limits to your ability to carry a firearm openly in the state. It is important to understand what these limits and regulations are so you can exercise your Second Amendment right to bear arms without getting in trouble with the law. Below, our experienced Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyer at Overson Law, PLLC explains Utah’s open carry policies and when you need to obtain a permit to carry a gun.

Open Carry Laws in Utah

In Utah, a person without a concealed carry permit is permitted to openly carry a gun if certain conditions are met. On your own property, you are permitted to carry a loaded firearm with no restrictions. You are also permitted to openly carry a firearm without a permit in your vehicle or in someone else’s vehicle if that individual has given you permission to do so.

Employers can set company policies that prohibit employees from openly carrying guns, and it is legal for them to discipline employees who violate such a policy. However, criminal penalties will not be imposed. Furthermore, employers cannot prevent employees from keeping a loaded gun in their vehicle in the parking lot.

You are not permitted to openly carry a gun without a permit in a place of public worship that has prohibited guns from being brought in. You are also not permitted to openly carry a gun without a permit on the grounds of a K-12 school or a college campus.

In all other places, open carry is allowed, but only if the gun is unloaded. The definition of unloaded in Utah is that the gun requires at least two mechanical movements to fire and there is no bullet or round in the firing position. If you are caught openly carrying a loaded firearm in public without a permit, you can be charged with a class B misdemeanor for gun possession.

Concealed Carry Laws in Utah

It is important to discuss Utah’s concealed carry laws in conjunction with the open carry laws, because having a concealed carry permit in Utah also gives you greater rights when it comes to open carry. A concealed carry permit is required for any person who wants to carry a concealed firearm in public. A firearm may be concealed in many ways, such as in a leg holster under your pants, in a bag or purse, or somewhere else hidden on your person.

With a valid concealed carry permit, you can carry a concealed, loaded or unloaded gun anywhere except the specifically prohibited places. Under state law, the prohibited places are limited to houses of worship and private residences that have posted signs indicating that they do not wish to have guns brought onto their premises. Furthermore, a concealed carry permit does not apply to federally controlled areas such as airports or national parks. If you have a concealed carry permit, you also can openly carry a loaded weapon to any of the non-prohibited places, including on a K-12 or college campus.

In order to get a concealed carry permit, a person must be 21 years of age, although provisional permits are issued to those between ages 18-20. You also must undergo a criminal background check and take a gun safety course approved by the state. Note that, under Utah law, while a concealed carry permit does allow you to bring your gun into a bar, even those who have a concealed carry permit are not permitted to carry a loaded weapon if they are intoxicated. Intoxication is defined by the state as having a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .05% or more.

Persons Prohibited from Possessing a Gun Under Utah Law

Utah law lists a certain group of people who may not possess guns under any circumstance. These people are divided into Category I and Category II prohibited people. If a Category I prohibited person is found in possession of a gun, they can be charged with a second-degree felony. If a Category II prohibited person is found in possession of a gun, they can be charged with a third-degree felony.

You are a Category I restricted person if you meet one or more of the following requirements:

  • Have a conviction for a violent felony, as defined in the code
  • Are on probation or parole for a felony
  • Are on parole from a secure detention facility
  • Have 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

You are a Category II restricted person if you meet one or more of the following requirements:

  • Have a conviction for any felony
  • Have been adjudicated delinquent for any crime that would have been a felony if an adult committed it, but only within the last 7 years
  • Are currently unlawfully using a controlled substance
  • Have gone to trial on a felony offense and been found not guilty by reason of insanity
  • Have been declared mentally incompetent to stand trial for a felony offense
  • Have been adjudicated as mentally defective or have been committed to a mental institution
  • Are an undocumented alien
  • Have had a dishonorable discharge from the military
  • Have renounced your U.S. citizenship

If You are Facing Charges Related to Open Carry in Utah, Call Our Utah Gun Possession Lawyers

While open carry is permitted throughout Utah, it is not without its limits. If you open carry in a way that is not permitted, or if you are a prohibited person in possession of a firearm, you could be charged with a crime and face serious penalties including jail time. At Overson Law, PLLC, our Utah criminal defense attorneys have successfully defended clients against gun-related charges all over the state. For a free consultation, call us today at (801) 758-2287.


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