Gun laws in Utah
Utah's firearm laws are some of the more permissive in the United States. Utah's firearms laws are intended to protect the second amendment rights of its law-abiding citizens, while at the same time ensuring the safety of the general public. A 2013 study ranked Utah the lowest among all 50 states in the category of gun control legislation. Under Utah law, violent crimes with firearms, criminal possession of firearms, and criminal negligence with firearms may all be prosecuted as felonies, and strictly punished under state law. Being part of the Western United States and Rocky Mountain States, Utah is home to a strong gun culture.
- 1 Summary table
- 2 Overview
- 3 Buying, selling and owning firearms
- 4 Carrying concealed firearms
- 5 Specific crimes with firearms
- 6 Right to keep and bear arms in state constitution
- 7 References
|Subject/Law||Long guns||Handguns||Relevant Statutes||Notes|
|State permit required to purchase?||No||No|
|Assault Weapons law?||No||No|
|Owner license required?||No||No|
|Carry permits required?||Yes||Yes||UT 53-05-704||Carry of a loaded firearm or concealed firearm allowed with permit. May open carry unloaded firearm without permit. May carry loaded handgun in vehicle without permit; loaded long guns in vehicles prohibited.
As of 2004, may carry at public universities.
|Open carry permitted?||Yes||Yes||Open carry of firearm without a permit is allowed as long as the gun is at least 2 actions from being fired, e.g., 1) rack the slide to chamber, and 2) pull the trigger
Open carry of a loaded firearm (e.g., a live round of ammunition in the firing chamber) is allowed with a permit
|State preemption of local restrictions?||Yes||Yes||Municipalities may regulate the discharge of firearms.|
|NFA weapons restricted?||No||No||Possession of NFA firearms in violation of federal law is a third degree felony under state law. However, possession and ownership of NFA firearms and items is legal under state law if federal requirements and laws are followed.|
|Shall certify?||Yes||Yes||53-5a-104||Shall certify within 15 days.|
|Peaceable Journey law?||Yes||Yes||76-10-523||Persons exempt from weapons laws.
"(g) a nonresident traveling in or through the state, provided that any firearm is: (i) unloaded; and (ii) securely encased as defined in Section 76-10-501." Handguns may be loaded in any vehicle under the person's control.
|Castle Doctrine law?||Yes||Yes||76-2-405||Force in defense of habitation.
"(1) A person is justified in using force against another when and to the extent that he reasonably believes that the force is necessary to prevent or terminate the other's unlawful entry into or attack upon his habitation; however, he is justified in the use of force which is intended or likely to cause death or serious bodily injury only if: (a) the entry is made or attempted in a violent and tumultuous manner, surreptitiously, or by stealth, and he reasonably believes that the entry is attempted or made for the purpose of assaulting or offering personal violence to any person, dwelling, or being in the habitation and he reasonably believes that the force is necessary to prevent the assault or offer of personal violence; or (b) he reasonably believes that the entry is made or attempted for the purpose of committing a felony in the habitation and that the force is necessary to prevent the commission of the felony. (2) The person using force or deadly force in defense of habitation is presumed for the purpose of both civil and criminal cases to have acted reasonably and had a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or serious bodily injury if the entry or attempted entry is unlawful and is made or attempted by use of force, or in a violent and tumultuous manner, or surreptitiously or by stealth, or for the purpose of committing a felony."
|Stand Your Ground law?||Yes||Yes||76-2-402||Force in defense of person -- Forcible felony defined.
"(1) (a) 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. (b) A person is justified in using force intended or likely to cause death or serious bodily injury only if the person reasonably believes that force is necessary to prevent death or serious bodily injury to the person or a third person as a result of another person's imminent use of unlawful force, or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony."
|Background checks required for private sales?||No||No|
Utah allows for open carry of unloaded firearms without a concealed firearm permit. "Unloaded" as it applies here, means that there is no round in the firing position (or chamber), and the firearm is at least two "mechanical actions" from firing. As carrying the firearm with the chamber empty, but with a full magazine, meets this definition (the handler must chamber a round, and then pull the trigger), this is a common work around for Utah residents who do not wish to acquire a permit. Without the permit, the firearm must be clearly visible.
Utah requires a permit to carry a concealed firearm. With a permit, a person may carry a firearm with a loaded chamber either openly or concealed. Utah will honor a permit issued by any state or county. Utah does not require concealed carry permit holders to notify police officers of their permit or possession of firearms when stopped by police officers, but the state Bureau of Criminal Identification recommends doing so "for the safety of all involved" and to give the officer "some assurance they are most likely dealing with a law abiding citizen."
Utah law allows for a "Non-Resident" Concealed Firearm Permits to be issued. The Utah Concealed Firearm Permit is valid in thirty-four states across the US. However there are several states that have passed statutes that do not honor a "Non-Resident" permit. For example, Colorado will honor Utah's permit, but the permittee must be a resident of Utah for his permit to be valid. Utah concealed firearm permits are "shall issue" and will be issued to anyone meeting the requirements.
Utah is a "Castle Doctrine" state, in which there is no duty to retreat before use of deadly force, if the person reasonably believes that a perpetrator is going to commit a forcible felony in the habitation*, and that the force is necessary to prevent the commission of the felony. Since burglary is itself a forcible felony, it is legal to use deadly force to stop a burglar. 
In Utah a person may carry firearms in some places not allowed by some other states, including banks, bars, public universities, and state parks. With a permit, you may also carry in schools (K-12). Utah's Uniform Firearm Laws expressly prohibits public schools from enacting or enforcing any rule pertaining to firearms. Utah requires public schools to allow lawful firearms possession.
Buying, selling and owning firearms
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Private sales of firearms are legal in Utah to anyone over the age of 18 UCA 76-10-S509.9.
Online classified websites are a common meeting place for buyers and sellers. One highly utilized internet site was the classified advertising section of news station KSL-TV. However, after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in December 2012, KSL temporarily disallowed sales or advertising of firearms. KSL has yet to rescind their stance.
There are two categories of persons who may not possess firearms or dangerous weapons under Utah law. Penalties for weapons possession by category I restricted persons are more severe than the penalties for possession by category II restricted persons.
Category I covers persons who have "been convicted of any violent felony" or are "on probation or parole for any felony" or have been "within the last 10 years an adjudicated delinquent for an offense which if committed by an adult would have been a violent felony".
Under Utah law, "A Category I restricted person who intentionally or knowingly agrees, consents, offers, or arranges to purchase, transfer, possess, use, or have under his custody or control, or who intentionally or knowingly purchases, transfers, possesses, uses, or has under his custody or control any firearm is guilty of a second degree felony."
Category II covers persons who have "been convicted of or are under indictment for any felony" or have "within the last seven years been an adjudicated delinquent for an offense which if committed by an adult would have been a felony" or are "an unlawful user of a controlled substance" or have "been found not guilty by reason of insanity for a felony offense" or have "been found mentally incompetent to stand trial for a felony offense" or have "been adjudicated as mentally defective as provided in the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act" or are "an alien who is illegally or unlawfully in the United States" or have "has been dishonorably discharged from the armed forces" or have "renounced his citizenship after having been a citizen of the United States".
A Category II restricted person who purchases, transfers, possesses, uses, or has under his custody or control any firearm is guilty of a third degree felony under Utah law.
Under Utah state law, "Any person who transfers in violation of applicable state or federal law a sawed-off rifle, sawed-off shotgun, or fully automatic weapon to a minor is guilty of a third degree felony."
Carrying concealed firearms
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Utah is a shall issue state for permits for the concealed carry of firearms. Utah law states "The bureau shall issue a permit to carry a concealed firearm for lawful self defense to an applicant who is 21 years of age or older within 60 days after receiving an application, unless the bureau finds proof that the applicant does not meet the qualifications set forth". Permits are issued to both Utah residents and non residents. Applicants between 18 and 20 may obtain a provisional permit.
Persons convicted of a felony, any crime of violence, any offense involving alcohol, any offense involving the unlawful use of narcotics or other controlled substances, any offense involving moral turpitude, any offense involving domestic violence, or persons found by any court to be mentally incompetent are automatically barred from being issued a permit. Any person barred by state or federal law from possessing a firearm may not be issued a permit.
Additionally, "The bureau may deny, suspend, or revoke a concealed firearm permit if it has reasonable cause to believe that the applicant or permit holder has been or is a danger to self or others as demonstrated by evidence". Examples of such evidence include "past pattern of behavior involving unlawful violence or threats of unlawful violence" or "past participation in incidents involving unlawful violence or threats of unlawful violence". In determining whether the applicant or permit holder has been or is a danger to self or others, the bureau may inspect expunged records of arrests and convictions of adults, and juvenile court records.
However, Utah law also states that "The bureau may not deny, suspend, or revoke a concealed firearm permit solely for a single conviction for an infraction violation of Title 76, Chapter 10, Part 5, Weapons".
Permit holders may appeal a permit suspension, denial or revocation. Utah law states that "In the event of a denial, suspension, or revocation of a permit, the applicant or permit holder may file a petition for review with the board within 60 days from the date the denial, suspension, or revocation is received by the applicant or permit holder".
Restrictions of concealed carry
Even with a carry permit, carrying a concealed firearm is not allowed in any church that notifies the State of Utah and makes public notice. A church must, by state law, make annual notice of this intent to prohibit firearms from their "houses of worship". The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints prohibits the carrying of firearms in its "houses of worship"; they have current notice posted on the Utah Department of Public Safety's website. Prohibition of firearms from "houses of worship" does not necessarily include all property owned by the church. However, firearms are prohibited at all Church-owned colleges (LDS Business College and Brigham Young University) and office buildings. Church campsites also prohibit weapons.
Penalties for concealed carrying without permit
Carrying a concealed firearm without a permit is a class B misdemeanor if the firearm is unloaded, and is a class A misdemeanor if the firearm is loaded. A person who carries concealed a sawed-off shotgun or a sawed-off rifle is guilty of a second degree felony under Utah law. If an unlawfully carried concealed firearm is used in the commission of a violent felony, and the person is a party to the offense, the person is guilty of a second degree felony.
Concealed carry permit reciprocity
Utah recognizes any firearm carry permit issued by any state of the United States, or any political subdivision thereof.
Concealed carry on private property
Any person eligible to possess a firearm may carry that firearm, either concealed or unconcealed, in their own home or property, or on any private property with the consent of the property owner. Utah law allows concealed firearm permit holders (CFP), including teachers with a CFP, to carry firearm on any public school premises.
Specific crimes with firearms
Carrying a firearm with the intent to unlawfully assault another is a class A misdemeanor under Utah law.
Drawing or exhibiting a firearm in an angry and threatening manner, or unlawfully using a dangerous weapon in a fight or quarrel in the presence of two or more persons is a class A misdemeanor. This law does not apply when firearms are properly used in self-defense.
Negligently discharging a firearm in a manner that disturbs the peace or could damage or harm public or private property is a class B misdemeanor. Discharging a firearm in a manner that significantly endangers any person, or discharging a firearm into any habitable structure is third degree felony. If bodily injury to any person results from such negligent discharge, the offense can be elevated/enhanced to a second or first degree felony, depending upon the severity of the bodily injury or harm caused by the negligent discharge.
Any person who carries a firearm while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance is guilty of a class B misdemeanor.
Right to keep and bear arms in state constitution
Article I, Section 6, of the Constitution of the State of Utah provides that: "The individual right of the people to keep and bear arms for security and defense of self, family, others, property, or the state, as well as for other lawful purposes shall not be infringed; but nothing herein shall prevent the Legislature from defining the lawful use of arms."
- Firearm Laws, Utah Department of Public Safety. Retrieved January 4, 2013.
- "State Gun Laws: Utah", National Rifle Association – Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA). Retrieved January 4, 2013.
- "Utah State Law Summary", Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Retrieved January 4, 2013.
- Eric W. Fleegler, MD, MPH; Lois K. Lee, MD, MPH; Michael C. Monuteaux, ScD; David Hemenway, PhD; Rebekah Mannix, MD, MPH. Firearm Legislation and Firearm-Related Fatalities in the United States. The Journal of American Medical Association, 2013. Retrieved 9 March 2013
- Utah Code 76-10-502: When weapon deemed loaded, Utah State Legislature. Retrieved January 4, 2013.
- , OpenCarry.org. Retrieved 23 DEC 2014.
- Utah Code 76-10-523: Persons exempt from weapons laws, Utah State Legislature. Retrieved January 4, 2013.
- , Utah Department of Public Safety. Retrieved October 10, 2017.
- Utah Code 76-2-405: Force in defense of habitation, Utah State Legislature. Retrieved January 5, 2013.
- Utah Code 53-5a-102: Uniform firearm laws., Utah State Legislature. Retrieved January 5, 2013.
- University of Utah v. Shurtleff, Utah State Courts. Retrieved January 5, 2013.
- Cortez, Marjorie (2012). Firearms listings temporarily suspended on KSL Classifieds accessed 18 Jan 2013
- "Utah Code 53-5-S704: Concealed Firearms Act". Utah State Legislator. Retrieved 2016-03-26.
- NRA-ILA. "NRA-ILA | Utah: Governor Signs Self-Defense Legislation into Law". NRA-ILA. Retrieved 2017-03-24.