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Carrying a gun is not disorderly conduct, Utah House says

Published March 11, 2014 10:31 am

Clarification • Merely carrying a weapon without threatening behavior isn't disorderly conduct.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Carrying a gun may look ominous. But the House voted Monday to make clear that such action alone cannot be considered disorderly conduct.

It voted 54-17 to approve HB276, and sent it to Senate.

Rep. Curt Oda, R-Clearfield, the bill's sponsor, said sometimes people preparing to go hunting or carrying a holstered gun but making no threatening gestures or comments have been arrested and charged with disorderly conduct because someone else felt uncomfortable. He said that infringes on 2nd Amendment rights.

The bill reads, "The mere carrying or possession of a holstered or encased firearm, whether visible or concealed, without additional behavior or circumstances that would cause a reasonable person to believe" the weapons was carried unlawfully or with criminal intent "does not constitute a violation."

Oda said if a police officer saw "any threatening behavior or comments ... he can take immediate action" and arrest the man. Otherwise, he said officers would need to "engage in friendly conversation to see if everything's OK, and do an attitude check" and keep watch on that person.

Rep. V. Lowry Snow, R-Santa Clara, said that as a former prosecutor, he believes the bill could allow almost anyone to argue they were wrongfully charged because their actions were misunderstood, and opposed the bill.

Rep. Earl Tanner, R-West Jordan, said people who carry weapons openly in places such as shopping malls without thinking that it causes others to "have concern for their safety … seems to be ignoring reality."

But House Republican Whip Greg Hughes, R-Draper, said the bill simply allows people to act as permitted currently by state law without being arrested for disorderly conduct.