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Aposhian, Utah's top gun spokesman, to lose firearms based on civil stalking injunction

Published June 3, 2013 10:01 pm

Courts • Stalking injunction means Utah's top gun advocate must forfeit his arsenal of firearms — at least for now.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Perhaps Clark Aposhian can tweak the title of his weekly radio show to "'Guns I've Loved' — And Lost."

Utah's top gun spokesman must forfeit his arsenal of firearms based on a temporary civil stalking injunction signed by a 3rd District judge one minute before close of business Friday.

Aposhian will also have his concealed-weapons permit stripped — at least temporarily — based on a protective order filed Friday by his ex-wife, according to investigators with the Utah Bureau of Criminal Identification (BCI).

"It means that you can't own or possess [firearms] at this time," BCI investigator Phil Leiker said about the stalking injunction filed by Aposhian's ex-wife's husband, Ronald Meyer, whom Aposhian allegedly threatened to "bury," according to jail documents. "He knows the gun laws pretty darn well," Leiker continued. "I'm sure he's going to find somebody with a nice big safe where he can put his guns until this thing is resolved. If he violates that ... it's contempt of court."

Aposhian did not respond to a request for comment Monday. His attorney, Mitch Vilos, said he has not yet seen the stalking order nor has his client been served.

"What it means to this case is it serves as a legalized form of extortion to put him out of business," Vilos said. "Agencies customarily try to take away a fundamental right like the right to bear arms. I'm not even sure if it's constitutionally sound."

Aposhian is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday in Holladay Justice Court on four class B misdemeanor charges that include domestic violence in the presence of a child, criminal trespass, criminal mischief and threat of violence.

Arrest • The high-profile gun advocate was arrested and booked into Salt Lake County Jail on Memorial Day after police said he honked an air horn then backed his 10-wheel, 2-ton Army surplus truck into his ex-wife's Cottonwood Heights driveway, nearly striking a parked Jeep.

Police say Aposhian later told Meyer by phone that he "would run over their cars and bury" him. When Aposhian returned to the scene in his Dodge Magnum, police confiscated his gun.

Meyer's injunction, good for three years after it is served, states "that stalking has occurred, and that [Aposhian] is the stalker," according to the findings.

"No guns or firearms!" the warnings on the order read. "It is a federal crime for you to have, possess, transport, ship, or receive any firearm or ammunition, including hunting weapons, while this civil stalking injunction is in effect."

Aposhian, chairman of the Utah Shooting Sports Council, the state's premier gun lobby, also is a firearms instructor who makes his livelihood teaching concealed-carry classes. The council's board will meet in closed session this month to discuss Aposhian's fate, its president says.

Vilos has said a conviction would be "ruinous" to Aposhian's profession but insists the charges are "ridiculous" and the result of an "incompetent" police investigation. He promises to introduce witnesses who can prove no threats were made.

"We deny everything. I know the guy and I know he'd never do it."

"The truth is extremely far removed from what has been reported," Aposhian last wrote on Twitter the day after his arrest, "approximately 180 degrees of difference."

Aposhian has been no stranger to controversy since the Sandy Hook Elementary slaughter in December. Two weeks later, he held a free concealed-carry permit class for 200 Utah teachers and other school employees at the Maverik Center in West Valley City, then a second free session last month for educators in St. George. In March, Aposhian reported his AR-15 rifle was stolen from a lockbox inside his vehicle.

Gentle person • Rep. Curt Oda, R-Clearfield, one of Aposhian's staunch supporters, says his friend is emotional right now as he navigates a "nasty divorce" and custody battle.

"He's not the violent type," Oda said. "With his daughter, he's the most gentle person you've ever seen. If he decides he wants to continue the lobbying efforts, that would be admirable. I would not like to see him step out of the picture because of his talents."

Aposhian's ex-wife told police there is a custody dispute regarding their 11-year-old daughter, adding the Memorial Day dust-up is part of "ongoing harassment."

BCI investigator Jeff Dunn said Monday "we will suspend for that," referring to the protective order and Aposhian's concealed weapons permit.

A hearing on the temporary protective order is scheduled June 18 when a judge could dismiss the measure or make it permanent. If it becomes a "full" protective order, federal restrictions apply, meaning Aposhian could not own or possess firearms.

Unlike in other states, protective orders have no expiration date in Utah, BCI explains, unless a judge assigns one.

djensen@sltrib.com

Twitter: derekpjensen —

Order in the court • Clark Aposhian, Utah's chief gun lobbyist, faces arraignment Tuesday in Holladay Justice Court on four misdemeanor charges, including domestic violence in the presence of a child. He is also charged with criminal trespass, criminal mischief and a threat of violence stemming from a Memorial Day incident outside the Cottonwood Heights home of his ex-wife and her husband.

A second hearing for Aposhian has been scheduled June 18 in 3rd District Court regarding a temporary protective order filed by Aposhian's ex-wife.