Utah's Gun Laws

You may or may not be surprised to know that Utah has some of the most liberal gun laws in the country. We say liberal because like some other conservative states, Utah gives a very liberal interpretation of the Second Amendment, extending gun rights with very few restrictions. 


Utah's Gun Laws

Organizations which rate states for sensible gun policy, frequently put Utah at the very bottom of the list. Utah allows many avenues to purchase guns without background checks, including very popular classified websites and gun shows.

Up until Ksl.com recently put their classified firearms listings on hold, it was ranked one of the most active sites in the nation. A police probe into the activity on Ksl.com reported that 73% of the time, these private Utah sellers were willing to sell a gun to someone who openely stated they could not pass a background check. [Wall Street Journal 12/14/11]  And it is estimated that these purchases (which avoid any background checks at all) comprise up to 40% of all gun transactions in Utah. 

In 2011, one well-respected anti gun violence organization scolded Utah for officially having the 'craziest laws.' And in response some of our legislators were gleeful. One even said, "I wish we could get a negative score from them, like an F minus minus." [SL Tribune 5/6/11] Utah still allows for classified sales of guns, including all types of military style semi-automatic rifles. Click here for an example. Do you feel comfortable knowing so many guns are able to be sold in Utah without any oversight? 

Here is a synopsis of Utah gun laws, what is and is not allowed.


  • Hold gun owners responsible for leaving their guns accessible to children. 
  • Require child safety locks on firearms. 
  • Allow schools or campuses to prohibit firearms in school zones.
  • Require safety training before purchasing a gun.
  • Require a permit for openly carrying a firearm, as long as it is not in the firing position, the safety lock is engaged, or the weapon is not loaded.
  • Require a permit for a loaded handgun in a car.
  • Require a background check for classified sales and gun shows.
  • Require gun owners to obtain a license, register their firearms or report lost or stolen firearms.
  • Require firearms dealers to have a state license. (The state does however require a special license for aestheticians and salons that offer hair-braiding.)
  • Limit the number of firearms that may be purchased at a time. (This contributes to illegal gun trafficking.)
  • Impose a waiting period prior to purchasing a firearm.
  • Significantly regulate ammunition.
  • Allow law enforcement significant discretion to deny a concealed carry license.
  • Allow local governments to regulate firearms.
  • Allow the Attorney General to regulate firearms.
  • Require fingerprinting for gun ownership.
  • Require ballistic fingerprinting.
  • Require microstamping. (Ballistic fingerprinting and microstamping allow law enforcement to track the bullet to the firearm and the owner who used the weapon in a crime. 
  • Require consumer safety standards for guns.
  • Impose limitations on 'junk guns' or 'saturday night specials.' 
  • Require state record keeping or law enforcement record keeping for firearm ownership.
  • Involve law enforcement in permit processing.


  • Require state and national background checks before the sale of a firearm from a dealer, but only recently began providing important information regarding those adjudicated mentally ill, which would disqualify them from owning firearms.
  • Partially restrict possession of guns by juveniles. Anyone under 18 is allowed to possess rifles, including semi-automatic 'assault-type' rifles and shotguns without parental permission, but cannot possess handguns. Children under 14 must have 'parental permission' or 'adult supervision.' It is not lawful for a dealer to sell any type of gun to a juvenile.
  • Require a conceal carry permit to carry a loaded gun in firing position.


Because schools are forced to allow weapons on campuses, it is lawful for anyone to be openly carrying a weapon outside a school, including military style 'assault-type' semi-automatic rifles. This law gives our police officers very little leeway in confronting or investigating such a person, when they are trying to determine their intent. To read more about this issue click here.