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State And Federal Firearms Laws

State And Federal Firearms Laws

The legal basis for firearm possession in the Utah is enshrined in the Second Amendment of the Constitution. Gun control is one of the most divisive issues in American politics. With each mass shooting defined as four or more victims having been killed indiscriminately antagonism grows between both sides of the gun control argument. Proponents of stricter gun regulations fear for their safety in a country where there is an average of 88 guns per 100 people, according to the 2011 Small Arms Survey. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence estimates that around 114,994 people are shot each year in the US. This includes murders, assaults, accidents, police intervention, suicide attempts and suicides. Opponents of regulatory arguments, however, also fear a loss of safety. They argue that restricting the right to bear arms would leave citizens unable to protect themselves in their daily lives or, in a worst-case scenario, from a government turned against the people. Though regulations vary from state to state, there are a few key conditions for obtaining guns in the Utah.

Is there a minimum age?

The Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA), which regulates firearms at the federal level, requires that citizens and legal residents must be at least 18 years of age to purchase shotguns or rifles and ammunition. All other firearms handguns, for example can only be sold to people 21 and older. State or local officials may implement higher age restrictions but are not allowed to lower the federal minimum.

Who’s restricted from purchasing or possessing firearms?

Fugitives, people deemed a danger to society and patients involuntarily committed to mental institutions are among those who may not purchase firearms. People with prior felony convictions that include a prison sentence exceeding one year, or misdemeanours carrying sentences of more than two years, are also prohibited from purchasing firearms. Federal law also blocks the sale of guns to people who have been found guilty of unlawfully possessing or using controlled substances within the past year. This includes marijuana, which, though legalized in many US states, remains illegal under federal law. Other restrictions apply to people who have been issued restraining orders by courts to prevent harassment, stalking or threatening; people who have renounced their citizenship; dishonourably discharged military personnel; unauthorized migrants; and people temporarily visiting the US on non-immigrant visas, for example as tourists.

Does the federal or state government regulate firearms?

The Second Amendment serves as the legal basis for the “right of the people to keep and bear arms. Though state and local governments regulate whether residents may, for example, carry guns in public, laws regulating who may receive or possess guns are set out at the federal level. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), a division of the Department of Justice, administers the GCA. The ATF also regulates the standards for issuing licenses to gun vendors. Shotguns, rifles, machine guns, firearm mufflers and silencers are regulated by the National Firearms Act of 1934. The purchase of semi-automatic weapons is legal in most states, as are automatic weapons made before 1986.

Who may sell firearms?

Like handgun owners, dealers interested in obtaining a Federal Firearms License (FFL) must be at least 21 years of age. They must have premises for conducting business and must alert a local law enforcement official at the time of submitting their applications to the federal bureau that regulates firearms. Just like gun owners, they must fulfil the same criteria regarding their history of prior convictions and mental state. The license fee costs $200 (€170) for an initial three-year period and $90 for each subsequent three-year-long renewal. Selling firearms online also falls under these regulations. Although the purchase may be paid for online, the gun itself must be shipped to a registered FFL holder, who then conducts the necessary background check before handing the firearm over to its owner. However, the law is unclear on what constitutes selling guns for profit. Any individual may sell firearms without a license if his or her motive isn’t to make profit for livelihood through repeated and regular sales.

Is a background check required to purchase a firearm?

Yes. The amendment to the 1968 Gun Control Act known as the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993 requires holders of FFLs to conduct a background check. Potential firearm purchasers fill out a federal form known as the ATF 4473, which checks for prior convictions and other red flags. FFL holders then use the information provided on the form in the background check. States may decide whether the background check is carried out solely by the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) or a combination of the NICS and state agency information. Roughly 30 states rely solely on the NICS. Estimated to take under 10 minutes by phone or online, the check gives the FFL holder an immediate answer: approve, delay or deny. A delay indicates the need for further research for three business days, after which point FFL holders can act at their own discretion if the research proves inconclusive. The Brady law, however, does not apply to someone who is obtaining a firearm from an individual without an FFL.

Do states require permits to carry firearms?

Most states require permits to carry handguns. Concealed carry and open carry vary by state. Some states allow residents to carry handguns without permits. By contrast, virtually no state requires a permit to carry rifles and shotguns.

The law on selling, receiving and possessing firearms is clear. Yet not every individual providing the gun in a transfer requires an FFL, which in turn means that not every buyer is legally subject to a background check. This potentially enables guns to fall into the hands of users who might otherwise not be allowed to own a firearm. According to the ATF, anyone can sell a gun without an FFL from their home, online, at a flea market or at a gun show as long as he or she is not conducting the sale as part of regular business activity. One example would be someone who sells a firearm from his or her personal collection. Others who are exempt include those giving guns as gifts. Only individuals whose “principal motive” is to make a profit via sale must obtain an FFL. Commonly referred to as the “gun show loophole,” this ambiguity also explains how a purchase can occur without a background check and without breaking the law. A gun may also be purchased on behalf of a third party as long as it is a gift and as long as the recipient does not violate federal restrictions on gun ownership to the best of the gift giver’s knowledge. The same applies to the general transfer of guns. Children younger than 18 may possess guns that were given to them by parents or guardians as gifts provided that they have written permission. Under federal law supported by the National Rifle Association, the use of a firearm in a violent or drug-trafficking crime is punishable by a mandatory prison sentence of up to 20 years. A second conviction, if the firearm is a machine gun or is equipped with a silencer, brings life imprisonment without release. Violating firearms laws should lead to very real punishment for violent criminals, but the laws first must be enforced.

The following classes of people are ineligible to possess, receive, ship, or transport firearms or ammunition:
• Those convicted of crimes punishable by imprisonment for over one year, except state misdemeanours punishable by two years or less.
• Fugitives from justice.
• Unlawful users of certain depressant, narcotic, or stimulant drugs.
• Those adjudicated as mental defectives or incompetents or those committed to any mental institution.
• Illegal aliens.
• Citizens who have renounced their citizenship.
• Those persons dishonourably discharged from the Armed Forces.
• Persons less than 18 years of age for the purchase of a shotgun or rifle.
• Persons less than 21 years of age for the purchase of a firearm that is other than a shotgun or rifle.
• Persons subject to a court order that restrains such persons from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner.
• Persons convicted in any court of a misdemeanour crime of domestic violence.
Persons under indictment for a crime punishable by imprisonment for more than one year are ineligible to receive, transport, or ship any firearm or ammunition. Under limited conditions, relief from disability may be obtained from the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, or through a pardon, expungement, restoration of rights, or setting aside of a conviction.

Acquiring Firearms

The following restrictions apply to firearms acquired through purchase, trade, receipt of gifts, or by other means.

From Dealers

Provided that federal law and the laws of both the dealer`s and purchaser`s states and localities are complied with:
• An individual 21 years of age or older may acquire a handgun from a dealer federally licensed to sell firearms in the individual`s state of residence
• An individual 18 years of age or older may purchase a rifle or shotgun from a federally licensed dealer in any state
It shall be unlawful for any licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, or licensed dealer to sell, deliver, or transfer a firearm unless the federal firearms licensee receives notice of approval from a prescribed source approving the transfer. Sale of a firearm by a federally licensed dealer must be documented by a federal form 4473, which identifies and includes other information about the purchaser, and records the make, model, and serial number of the firearm. Sales to an individual of multiple handguns within a five-day period require dealer notification to the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Violations of dealer record keeping requirements are punishable by a penalty of up to $1000 and one year`s imprisonment.

Sales Between Individuals

An individual who does not possess a federal firearms license may not sell a firearm to a resident of another state without first transferring the firearm to a dealer in the purchaser`s state. Firearms received by bequest or intestate succession are exempt from those sections of the law which forbid the transfer, sale, delivery or transportation of firearms into a state other than the transferor`s state of residence.
Temporary use of Another`s Firearm
Provided that all other laws are complied with, an individual may temporarily borrow or rent a firearm for lawful sporting purposes throughout the United States.

Antiques

Antique firearms and replicas are exempted from the aforementioned restrictions. Antique firearms are defined as: any firearm (including any firearm with a matchlock, flintlock, percussion cap, or similar type of ignition system) manufactured in or before 1898, and any replica of a firearm as designed above if the replica is not designed or redesigned for using rimfire or conventional centerfire ammunition, or uses fixed ammunition, which is no longer manufactured in the United States and which is not readily available in the ordinary channels or commercial trade, any muzzle loading rifle, muzzle loading shotgun, or muzzle loading pistol, which is designed to use black powder, or a black powder substitute, and which cannot use fixed ammunition. (Note: Antiques exemptions vary considerably under state laws.)

Shipping Firearms

Firearms may not be mailed or shipped interstate from one non-FFL to another non-FFL. Personally owned rifles and shotguns may be mailed or shipped to an FFL in any state for any lawful purpose, including sale, repair, or customizing. An FFL may ship a firearm or replacement firearm of the same kind and type to a person from whom it was received. Under U.S. Postal regulations, handguns may be sent via the Postal Service only from one FFL to another FFL, or between authorized government officials. A person may ship a rifle or shotgun to himself, in care of a person who lives in another state, for purposes of hunting. Firearms or ammunition delivered to a common carrier for shipment must be accompanied by a written notice to the carrier of the contents of the shipment.

Transporting Firearms During Travel

A provision of federal law serves as a defense to state or local laws which would prohibit the passage of persons with firearms in interstate travel. Notwithstanding any state or local law, a person shall be entitled to transport a firearm from any place where he may lawfully possess and transport such firearm to any other place where he may lawfully possess and transport such firearm if the firearm is unloaded and in the trunk. In vehicles without a trunk, the unloaded firearm shall be in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console. Federal law prohibits the carrying of any firearm, concealed or unconcealed, on or about the person or in carry-on baggage while aboard an aircraft. The Transportation Security Administration(TSA) has established certain requirements for transporting firearms and ammunition. Firearms must be carried in a locked hard sided case. Ammunition must be declared and can be transported in checked baggage or in the same container as the firearm as long the firearm is unloaded. Any passenger who owns or legally possesses a firearm being transported aboard any common or contract carrier for movement with the passenger in interstate or foreign commerce must deliver the unloaded firearm into custody of the pilot, captain, conductor, or operator of such common or contract carrier for the duration of the trip.

As with firearms, shipments of ammunition must be accompanied by a written notice of the shipment`s contents. It is unlawful for any licensed importer, dealer, manufacturer or collector to transfer shotgun or rifle ammunition to anyone under the age of 18, or any handgun ammunition to anyone under the age of 21. It is illegal to manufacture or sell armor-piercing handgun ammunition.

Persons who engage in the business of buying or selling firearms must be licensed by the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives of the U.S. Department of Justice. A special class of “licensed collectors” provides for the purchase and sale of firearms designated by the batfe as “curios and relics.” Class III dealers may sell fully-automatic firearms manufactured prior to May 19, 1986, and other federally registered firearms and devices restricted under Title II of the Gun Control Act, to individuals who obtain approval from the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury after payment of a tax and clearance following a criminal background check. Violations of restrictions on Title II firearms and devices are punishable by a penalty of up to $10,000 and 10 years imprisonment. In addition to federal gun laws imposed by the National Firearms Act (1934), Gun Control Act (1968), Firearms Owner`s Protection Act (1986), Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act (1993), the 1994 Omnibus Crime Control Act and other laws, most states and some local jurisdictions have imposed their own firearms restrictions.

Utah Gun Laws

No state permit is required to purchase a rifle, shotgun, or handgun. A criminal history background check is needed for the sale of a firearm by a licensed dealer. A Utah concealed firearm permit holder is exempt from this requirement if the dealer first verifies that the permit is valid with the Utah Bureau of Criminal Identification.

No state permit is required to possess a rifle, shotgun or handgun.

It is unlawful to carry a loaded firearm on any public street without a permit. It is unlawful to carry a concealed firearm without a permit, even if it is unloaded, unless it is securely encased. A firearm that is unloaded and securely encased is not considered concealed. A person may carry a loaded firearm without a permit on their real property, a business under the person’s control, or at their place of residence, including any temporary residence or camp.

All authority to regulate firearms is reserved to the Legislature. Unless specifically provided by state law, no U.S. citizen or lawfully admitted alien shall be prohibited from owning, possessing, purchasing, selling, transferring, transporting, or keeping any firearm at his place of residence, property, business, or in any vehicle lawfully in his possession or lawfully under his control; or required to have a permit or license to purchase, own, possess, transport, or keep a firearm. No local authority or state entity may enact or enforce any ordinance, regulation, or rule pertaining to firearms, unless specifically authorized by the Legislature by statute.

Utah does not prohibit the possession or transfer of machine guns although a person under age 18 is prohibited from possessing a “fully automatic weapon,” which includes a machine gun. Any person who transfers, in violation of applicable state or federal law, a fully automatic weapon to a minor is guilty of a felony.

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Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

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About the Author

People who want a lot of Bull go to a Butcher. People who want results navigating a complex legal field go to a Lawyer that they can trust. That’s where I come in. I am Michael Anderson, an Attorney in the Salt Lake area focusing on the needs of the Average Joe wanting a better life for him and his family. I’m the Lawyer you can trust. I grew up in Utah and love it here. I am a Father to three, a Husband to one, and an Entrepreneur. I understand the feelings of joy each of those roles bring, and I understand the feeling of disappointment, fear, and regret when things go wrong. I attended the University of Utah where I received a B.A. degree in 2010 and a J.D. in 2014. I have focused my practice in Wills, Trusts, Real Estate, and Business Law. I love the thrill of helping clients secure their future, leaving a real legacy to their children. Unfortunately when problems arise with families. I also practice Family Law, with a focus on keeping relationships between the soon to be Ex’s civil for the benefit of their children and allowing both to walk away quickly with their heads held high. Before you worry too much about losing everything that you have worked for, before you permit yourself to be bullied by your soon to be ex, before you shed one more tear in silence, call me. I’m the Lawyer you can trust.