Domestic Dispute in Springville Ends with Accidental Discharging of a Firearm within City Limits

A domestic dispute between two couples and a relative ended with an accidental discharging of a firearm within city limits.

Domestic disturbance

Photo by: Marco Verch

Police officers were dispatched to a call that someone had discharged a firearm within city limits and discovered a car speeding away from the scene. After pulling over the vehicle, officers discovered a car overloaded with people, two of which were injured. One was suffering from a head injury while another had a gunshot wound to the foot. Returning to the area in which the firearm had been discharged, officers were able to determine the individual’s head injury and the other person’s bullet hole in his foot to have been the result of a domestic dispute that had become violent. The shooting was accidental, yet the man with the weapon will likely face charges for assault for pistol-whipping the individual with a head injury, brandishing a weapon in a threatening manner, and discharging a firearm within city limits.

State laws

Utah is thought to be a more gun friendly state, yet there are strict laws and ordinances in place regarding where guns are allowed and where they can be discharged. Utah law 76-10-508 warns: “A person may not discharge any kind of dangerous weapon or firearm:

(i) From an automobile or other vehicle;
(ii) From, upon, or across any highway;
(iii) At any road signs placed upon any highways of the state;
(iv) At any communications equipment of property of public utilities . . . ;
(v) At railroad equipment or facilities including any sign or signal;
(vi) Within Utah State Park[s] . . .;
(vii) Without written permission to discharge the dangerous weapon from the owner or person in charge of the property within 600 feet of . . . a house . . . or any structure in which a domestic animal is kept or fed”.

Discharging a firearm within city limits

Photo by: Micki Krimmel

Beyond the above listed areas, Utah law does not specify where in a city firearms are lawful to be discharged. Utah Code 53-5a-102 states “All authority to regulate firearms is reserved to the state except where the Legislature specifically delegates responsibility to local authorities or state entities.” Many counties or cities have their own ordinances pertaining to discharging a firearm within city limits. The city of Springville where the domestic dispute resulting in accidental discharging of a firearm was reported states in statute 8-3-102 that “except as permitted by subsection (2) [regarding hunting in rural areas during designated seasons], it shall be unlawful for any person within the limits of the City to discharge any rifle, gun, pistol, air gun, bean shooter, flipper, sling shot, or any other instrument which expels a projectile, except in self-defense, or, in the case of target shooting, upon issuance of a permit by the Police Department. “

Self-defense or Castle Doctrine

There are some occurrences when discharging a firearm within city limits would not result in criminal charges. Some such instances include self-defense cases when a person is found to be justified in using a weapon to protect themselves. Additionally, while state and many city laws prohibit firearm use near a residence, Utah homeowners are allowed to defend their home from dangerous intruders. This freedom to protect a home and its residents is known as Castle Doctrine.

Check with your local area

Besides in instances of self-defense or Castle Doctrine, all Utah residents should be aware that brandishing a weapon during an altercation or discharging a firearm in city limits will likely be frowned upon by law enforcement. Others who may want to engage in innocent target shooting or “air-soft wars” may want to check with their local area ordinances prior to engaging in any such activity that could result in criminal charges.

Utah Man Arrested For Discharge of a Firearm from a Vehicle

A Utah man traveling in Colorado was arrested earlier today for discharge of a firearm from a vehicle after he fired a single random shot out of a SUV he was a passenger in.

Guns and alcohol

Photo by: Ben Brown

Colorado State troopers responded to a report of a man firing a gun into the air while traveling down I-70 in Glenwood Canyon Colorado. Officers located the vehicle in question and were able to determine that the shot was made by the passenger in the vehicle who was notably intoxicated. 43 year old Ryan Johnson from Fairview Utah was arrested for prohibited use of a weapon and reckless endangerment.

Discharge of a firearm from a vehicle

Officers were not able to determine any malicious motive behind Johnson’s choice to fire a weapon out of his vehicle and there were no injuries reported. Regardless, his actions were distressing to the public and put others in danger. Utah State Code has a law for those trigger-happy individuals who may contemplate firing a weapon from a moving vehicle, even if there was no target in mind. Utah Code 76-10-508 states the obvious: “A person may not discharge any kind of dangerous weapon or firearm . . . from an automobile or other vehicle”; Doing so is a class B misdemeanor.

Firearms, arrows, throwing stars and nunchakus

Colorado, who until now may have not needed a law specifically to deter individuals from discharging a firearm from a vehicle does punish those who do so under Colorado Revised Statute 18-12-106. That section states: a person commits a class 2 misdemeanor if. . . recklessly or with criminal negligence he discharges a firearm or shoots a bow and arrow . . . [or] has in his or her possession a firearm while the person is under the influence of intoxicating liquor or of a controlled substance”. That section also criminalizes using throwing stars and nunchakus on others.

Drunken regrets

Sobered up Johnson likely regretted his drunken display of gun-power and will hopefully make the wise choice to gain the assistance of a reputable attorney. Anyone else facing charges related to firearms, vehicles or both of those combined are also encouraged to seek legal counsel.

Manslaughter Charges for Utah Dad Who Left Gun Within Reach of Toddler

A Utah dad is facing manslaughter charges after leaving a loaded gun within reach of his toddler.

Loaded gun around children

Photo by: RONg

27 year old Tasman Maile, father of two, was booked into Salt Lake County jail after his two year old son got a hold of a loaded gun and shot himself in the head. The child was not expected to survive and was on life support only long enough for his organs to be collected and donated. Maile, who reportedly fell asleep while spending time with his two and seven year old had left the firearm within reach of the toddler while the gun was loaded and the safety was off. He is facing multiple charges including second degree felony manslaughter.

Reckless manslaughter

Although Maile did not intentionally cause the death of his son, his actions constituted manslaughter as he “recklessly cause[d] the death of another” as stated in Utah Code 76-5-205 due to his leaving an obviously dangerous weapon where a child too young to understand the potential hazard would be able to find it. Manslaughter is punishable as a second degree felony with a possible fine of up to $10,000 and a prison term of one to 15 years, although the loss of his child will last a lifetime.

Responsible gun owners only

With almost anyone being able to purchase and own a firearm, there are responsibilities that must accompany this right. Gun owners are expected to use and store their firearms safely. Rules such as not pointing guns towards people, keeping the gun unloaded until being used, and not being under the influence of alcohol and drugs are given when possessing a firearm. One of the most important rules to ensure the safety of others however, is to never have guns accessible to children.