Reviewing Gun Laws in Utah

Utah is known as being one of states with lenient gun laws, but how does it compare to other states around the nation?

Constitutionally protected right

Photo by: Teknorat

All 50 states allow residents to own firearms, but some have stricter regulations than others. Utah Code 76-10-500 states: “The individual right to keep and bear arms being a constitutionally protected right, the Legislature finds the need to provide uniform laws throughout the state. Except as specifically provided by state law, a citizen of the United States or a lawfully admitted alien shall not be:

a) prohibited from owning, possessing, purchasing, selling, transferring, transporting, or keeping any firearm at his place of residence, property, business, or in any vehicle lawfully in his possession or lawfully under his control;”

Background check

According to Utah Code 76-10-526, “An individual purchasing a firearm from a dealer shall consent in writing to a criminal background check, on a form provided by the bureau.” While a background check is required when purchasing a firearm from a dealer, it is not if the done through a private sale. Only D.C. and 19 states including California and Nevada require background checks prior to every purchases of a firearm.

Licensing and registration

Not only does the state of Utah protect the right to bear arms and not require a background check or registration for all gun purchases, it also doesn’t require those packing to “have a permit or license to purchase, own, possess, transport, or keep a firearm.” This goes along with federal law that also does not require gun owners to be licensed. The District of Columbia along California and 12 other states are the only states that require their residents to have a permit to purchase a firearm. Several of those that require permits for handguns, do not require permits for long guns. In the state of Utah, residents are also not required to register the firearms they own. Only D.C. and 8 states including California require gun owners to register the firearms in their possession.

Open carry

Utah residents are permitted to carry a firearm on their person as long as there is not a round in the firing position. The firearm must be two (mechanical) actions away from being able to be fired. Utah’s relaxed open carry laws do not allow residents to have a firearm in areas where firearms are restricted such as airports. Person’s carrying firearms are also warned not to “cause a reasonable person to fear for the safety of any person”. Utah is not alone in its decision to let residents carry firearms on their person. Only five states and D.C. have bans regarding open carry of handguns.

Concealed weapon

Concealed weapon laws are one area where Utah is somewhat controlling with firearms. Residents are allowed to carry a concealed weapon, but they must obtain a concealed weapons permit first. According to the Utah Department of Public Safety, the requirements to obtain a concealed firearm permit are:

• “Applicant must be at least 21 years of age
• Proof of good character…whereas the applicant;
• has not been convicted of a felony;
• has not been convicted of any crime of violence;
• has not been convicted of any offense involving the use of alcohol;

• has not been convicted of any offenses involving the unlawful use of narcotics or other controlled substances;
• has not been convicted of any offenses involving moral turpitude;
•has not been convicted of any offense involving domestic violence;
• has not been adjudicated by a court of a state or of the United States as mentally incompetent, unless the adjudication has been withdrawn or reversed
• is qualified to purchase and possess a firearm pursuant to Section 76-10-503 and federal law.”

42 other states allow residents to carry a concealed weapon with a permit. Only eight states including neighboring Arizona and Idaho allow concealed weapons without a permit.

Changing laws

In light of recent traumatic events, Utah’s lenient gun laws could be back up for review. Anyone desiring to purchase or carry a firearm, whether open or concealed, is recommended to review current state laws to ensure they are within the law.