Armed Utah Resident Threatens Use of Deadly Force to Stop Men Fleeing Police

An armed southern Utah resident threatened use of deadly force to stop two men from fleeing police.

Armed Utah resident

Photo by: Adam Bailey

A resident in the small town of Leeds, Utah which is located 16 miles north of St. George heard a large noise on his property and went to investigate. The resident discovered two men had crashed into his fence while fleeing from police. The Leeds homeowner who was armed with a personal firearm threatened use of deadly force to keep the men detained by gunpoint until a law enforcement officer was able to take them under arrest.

Helpful, but was it justified?

The homeowner was likely alarmed by the pair of men crashing into his fence, however was he justified brandishing a firearm to keep the men from fleeing again? Fortunately for all parties involved, the pair fleeing police did not attempt to continue running or threaten the homeowner in any way. Authorities arrived shortly after and the two were booked into Purgatory Correctional Facility on a variety of misdemeanor and felony charges. Had the men tried to leave however, would the homeowner have been justified to use deadly force? Is leaving the scene a reason to defend oneself?

Threatening force in defense of person

Utah Code 76-2-402 states: “A person is justified in threatening or using force against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that force or a threat of force is necessary to defend the person or a third person against another person’s imminent use of unlawful force.” Someone crashing into a fence may be startling at first, however unless more aggressive actions were taken, it likely would not necessitate threatening use of using deadly force against the other party for them merely attempting leaving the scene. Luckily in this case, deadly force was not used and the home owner was seen as an outstanding citizen for remaining calm while helping police.

Utah laws regarding firearms

Utah residents are encouraged to study Utah laws regarding firearms, so they will know for certain:

• where they are allowed to carry firearms,
• when they are allowed to brandish a weapon; and
• When they are justified in using deadly force.

Anyone facing charges for improper use of a firearm should seek legal counsel.

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.

Results of Ballot Initiatives that May Surprise You

The ballots have been cast and the voters have decided; here are some initiatives from around the nation with results that may surprise you.

Photo by: Kelly Minars

Photo by: Kelly Minars

Legalization of marijuana

Some feel the legalization of marijuana is an issue that should’ve been resolved on a national level long ago. As it stands however, marijuana laws differ by state.

Marijuana Initiatives

Photo by: Chuck Coker

• Before Tuesday’s polls, medical marijuana was legal in 18 states; that number is currently 22. Now residents of Arkansas, Florida, Montana, and North Dakota who are suffering from medical conditions such as epilepsy, glaucoma, and chronic pain will now be able to use medical marijuana that includes the psychoactive ingredient THC to help treat their symptoms.

• For those who wish to have the plant for leisure use: California, Nevada, and Massachusetts voters have joined with those in other states including Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington (and Washington D.C.) by voting in majority of initiatives that legalize the recreational use of marijuana. Maine could join that list, but currently is 50/50 while they wait for the 2% that haven’t reported yet. 52% of Arizona voters chose to stick with medical marijuana only while Utah didn’t even have marijuana on the ballot; the beehive state currently allows limited medical marijuana only along with 14 other states.

Death penalty

Capital punishment continues to be a sensitive issue. Many believe that those offenders who are found guilty of the most heinous of crimes should be removed from existence while others don’t believe taking a life is ever okay. Three states had initiatives on the ballot regarding the death penalty:

Photo by: Global Panorama

Photo by: Global Panorama

• California voters chose to not only keep the death penalty, but to hasten the time it takes for executions to be carried out.

• Residents in Oklahoma chose to protect the death penalty by amending the state constitution and giving lawmakers the option to choose other methods of execution if needed.

• The people of Nebraska chose to bring back the death penalty after their state legislature voted to abolish it just last year. Nebraska rejoins 30 other states that currently support the death penalty.

• The death penalty was not on the ballot for Utah where it is legal and usually carried out by lethal injection. The firing squad is another option however, with this method being used last in June of 2010 for the capital punishment of Ronnie Gardner.

Gun laws

With the countless incidents around the country where innocent people have lost their lives at the hands of crazed individuals wielding guns, some states chose to add initiatives to the ballots which toughen laws regarding gun control.

Photo by: frankieleon

Photo by: frankieleon

• 63% of California residents voted “yes” on proposition 63 which would require background checks on individuals purchasing any ammo and outlaw the possession of large capacity magazines.

• Residents in Washington State voted to allow judges the right to limit a person’s access to firearms temporarily if a family member or roommate of said person states they are displaying signs of behavioral or mental instability which may lead to a greater chance of them hurting someone including themselves.

• By a very slim margin, Nevada voters chose to require background checks for all sales of firearms.

• Maine was the only state with initiatives regarding gun laws on the ballot that chose not to toughen those laws. 52% of Maine voters chose to allow sales of guns between two parties, even if neither one is a licensed dealer.

• Utah is one of the states with more lenient gun laws and it will likely stay that way a while as nothing was included on the 2016 ballot. Currently Utah does not require background checks for gun purchases, has Castle Doctrine and Stand Your Ground laws, as well as allows open carry without a permit as long as firearms are not loaded.

Other noteworthy initiatives

With hundreds of initiatives on the ballots nationwide, there were a few that caught the attention of residents and media nationwide:

Ballot Initiatives

Photo by: michael_swan

• Minimum wage increase. Arizona, Colorado, Maine, and Washington all had initiatives to increase the minimum wage with Arizona and Washington also including paid sick leave for employees. South Dakota tried to decrease the minimum wage for employees under the age of 18 years old but that initiative was highly rejected.

• Assisted suicide. Colorado joined California, Montana, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington by voting “yes” to allow terminally ill patients of sound mind the right to end their lives by taking lethal drugs prescribed to them by a physician.

• Condoms for porn stars. 54% of California residents voted “no” to requiring actors in porn films to wear condoms during sex scenes. Perhaps the other parts to Proposition 60 that required film producers to obtain a health license and pay for numerous medical necessities of their paid actors is what drove voters to not pass the initiative.

For more information on the initiatives and poll results for the state of Utah, go to electionresults.utah.gov .