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Know the Laws: Utah

UPDATED November 15, 2016

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WomensLaw.org strongly recommends that you get in touch with a domestic violence advocate in your community for more information on gun laws in your area.  Go to the UT Where to Find Help page to find help.

Basic Info

back to topWhat is the difference between federal and state gun laws?

In these gun laws pages, we refer to both "federal gun laws" and "state gun laws."  The major difference between the two has to do with who makes the law, who prosecutes someone who violates the law, and what the penalty is for breaking the law.

One reason why it is important for you to know that there are these two sets of gun laws is so that you can understand all of the possible ways that the abuser might be breaking the law, and you can better protect yourself.  Throughout this section, we will be referring mostly to state laws.  Be sure to also read our Federal Gun Laws pages to see if any federal laws apply to your situation as well.  You will need to read both state and federal laws to see which ones, if any, the abuser might be violating.

If you are calling the police because you believe the abuser has violated a gun law, you do not necessarily need to be able to tell the police which law was violated (state versus federal) but local police cannot arrest someone for violating federal law, only for violating state/local laws.  Only federal law enforcement, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (“ATF”), can arrest someone for violating federal laws. If the local police believe that a state law is being violated, they could arrest the abuser and hand the case over to the state prosecutor.  If the local police believe a federal law is being violated, hopefully, the police department will notify the ATF or perhaps the U.S. Attorney’s office in your state (which is the federal prosecutor).  For information on how you can contact ATF directly to report the violation of federal gun laws, go to Who do I notify if I think the abuser should not have a gun?  If the abuser is breaking both state and federal laws, s/he might be prosecuted in both state and federal court.

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back to topI am a victim of domestic violence and the abuser has a gun. Is that legal?

Possibly not.  Both federal law, which applies to all states, and Utah state law prohibit certain people from having and buying guns. 

If you have a protective order against the abuser, or if the abuser has been convicted of a felony or domestic violence misdemeanor, then federal law states that it is illegal for the abuser to buy, own or have a gun in his/her possession.*  Note: There are certain requirements that your protective order must meet for it to qualify under federal law.  See I have a protection order against the abuser?  Can s/he keep a gun or buy a new gun? to read more about what those requirements are.

In addition, Utah state law says that a person cannot have a dangerous weapon if s/he:

  1. has been convicted of a violent felony or any felony;
  2. is on probation or parole for any felony;
  3. is on parole from a "secure facility" (confinement for youth offenders);
  4. within the last 10 years has been adjudicated delinquent for an offense, which if committed by an adult would have been a violent felony;
  5. is an alien who is illegally or unlawfully in the United States.
  6. is illegally using a controlled substance;
  7. is on probation for a conviction of possessing a controlled substance;
  8. is in possession of a dangerous weapon and is knowingly and intentionally illegally possessing a controlled substance;
  9. has been found not guilty by reason of insanity for a felony offense;
  10. has been found mentally incompetent to stand trial for a felony offense;
  11. has been judged "mentally defective" or has been committed to a mental institution;
  12. has been dishonorably discharged from the armed forces; or
  13. has renounced his/her citizenship after having been a citizen of the United States.** 

In addition, the state can deny, suspend, or revoke a permit to carry a concealed firearm if:

  • the person has been or is convicted of:
    • a felony;
    • a crime of violence;
    • an offense involving the use of alcohol;
    • an offense involving the unlawful use of drugs or other controlled substances;
    • an offense involving moral turpitude;
    • an offense involving domestic violence; or
  • has been or is judged by a state or federal court as mentally incompetent; is a danger to himself/herself or others (as evidenced by past behavior of violence, threats of violence, or prior conviction involving weapons); or falls under one of the other categories listed above in #s 1 - 12.***

If you are not sure if the abuser has been convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor, see What crimes are considered domestic violence misdemeanors?

To read the definition of a felony, see What is the definition of a felony?

* 18 USC § 922(g)(8),(9)
** U.C.A. § 76-10-503(1)-(3)
*** U.C.A. § 53-5-704(2)(a),(3)(a)

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