Ask a Cop – November 2010


Dear Law Enforcement Official/Fellow Gun Enthusiast,

I would like to inquire about the current gun laws in the fine state of Utah. I recently found an amazing pistol that I was pondering purchasing and would like to know everything I have to know so I will not be bothered by the authorities while “packin’ heat.” I’ve been told (by colleagues) that in Utah, we are able to purchase and carry said piece of machinery without a permit, as long as it is visible in a holster and no rounds are loaded in the chamber. I really hope this is true, and if it is, please do explain in as much detail as possible in order to clear up any misinterpretations of the laws from within the grapevine circuit. Now the last question I have is about how our protocol in Utah transfers over while traveling into other states. If carrying a visibly holstered weapon is legal in Utah, wouldn’t the same rules be grandfathered in wherever you may travel to, and, if not, could you not just claim indifference if detained in another state for doing so? I could go on and on, but I will hope they give you enough room to mention all the loopholes and intricacies of owning and brandishing such a wonderful right.

Sincerely, Tom E. Gunzundstein

Dear Tom,

It seems you already know the basics of the Utah open carry law.  You can carry in the open with very few restrictions, one being “deemed loaded.”  Utah defines a loaded firearm as one where a single action will cause the weapon to fire.  Using a revolver, you’d have to pull the trigger twice, or in an automatic, you’d have to rack the slide.  If you can pull the trigger and the gun fires, then it was loaded.  Obviously, you can’t be a restricted person like a felon or convicted of domestic violence.

Tom, honestly think about the people that carry a firearm in the open just cruising around the mall.  How do you picture them?  In my mind they’re usually fat, white and have a big grease stain on their bellies.  I even know a lot of cops like this, including the grease stain and home address in the trailer park.  There’s a current group in the SL Valley who wear guns in the open to provoke a response from regular citizens and cops.  They have a little helper in the background somewhere with a camcorder just waiting to post how the big, bad Utah cops infringed on their right to bear arms.  But, they still have the grease stain, and they could give a shit about how their honking “machinery” scared you and your family in the mall as they made sure all of you could see it.  I think they’re compensating.

True professionals who carry a gun for a living, or carry it for whatever protection they need, carry it concealed, and no one ever knows it’s there (unless they’re using it, God forbid).
In regards to carrying from state to state, most state laws differ.  Utah basically gave away so many concealed firearm permits without any firearms training or qualifications that a lot of states (such as Nevada) no longer honor them.  Your question is very “current event” related.  There are several cities that have enacted gun-ban laws, such as Washington D.C. and Chicago, and right now, those ordinances are being challenged or on appeal.  We’ll all have to wait and see as those Second Amendment issues work their way through the courts.

But in Utah, right now, if you’re a fat white guy with a grease stain on your wife beater, you’re qualified to openly carry an unloaded firearm.  Enjoy the attention!  You’ll be really cool, like the 12-year-old smoking his first cigarette.