The open carry of firearms has been a subject of considerable debate in Utah recently. Some people have been arrested for openly carrying holstered firearms despite the fact that open carry is legal in Utah. The charge has been, as it frequently was until recently in Wisconsin, “disorderly conduct” . . .

Disorderly conduct tends to be a catchall charge that’s used to crack down on conduct that is not illegal, but that the police disapprove of. Being arrested in and of itself can be a significant punishment. The Wisconsin AG eventually ruled that openly carrying a firearm is not disorderly conduct by itself. That after police departments paid out several settlements to people that they had charged with…you guessed it…disorderly conduct.

Wisconsin then passed shall-issue concealed carry, one of the least restrictive in the nation. As part of that law, the legislature clarified – in the statute – that openly carrying a gun was *not* disorderly conduct. From Wisconsin ACT 35:

66.0409 (6) Unless other facts and circumstances that indicate a criminal or malicious intent on the part of the person apply, no person may be in violation of, or be charged with a violation of, an ordinance of a political subdivision relating to disorderly conduct or other inappropriate behavior for loading, carrying, or going armed with a firearm, without regard to whether the firearm is loaded or is concealed or openly carried. Any ordinance in violation of this subsection does not apply

The State of Utah enacted its shall-issue law long before Wisconsin. And it had state constitutional protection of the right to keep and bear arms long before Wisconsin. But it lacked statutory protection of open carry. The bill that passed the legislature on Thursday, designed to clarify that open carry doesn’t constitute disorderly conduct, moves Utah toward a Wisconsin-level of protection of the right to keep and bear arms.

The bill is now headed to Governor Gary Herbert’s desk. He vetoed a constitutional carry bill in September of 2013 and now has 10 days, not counting the day he receives the bill or Sundays, to sign or veto it. If he doesn’t veto it during that period, it becomes law. If the legislature adjourns before the law is signed, and it isn’t vetoed, it becomes law 20 days after adjournment.

©2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
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20 Responses to Utah Legislature: Open Carry is not Disorderly Conduct

    • A very encouraging notice of intent, but I’ll reserve my “NICE!” until the governor actually signs it or it goes into effect by other non-veto means.

      Keep in mind that even when thoroughly blocked and baffled by the will of the people and the legislatures the Progressives and civilian disarmament folks heavily rely on parliamentary procedures and obscure rules such as this veto/no veto stuff to get what they could not get otherwise (Obamacare?) When those things fail they attempt to tie everything up in court proceedings and get some sort of judicial nullification. Don’t count your pro-2A laws until they are actually in the books.

      The intent of the law is encouraging, however.

  1. The difference between WI and Utah, WI has been an open carry state for a VERY long time, LONG before Utah became a CC state…

    The WI CCW law is one of most researched CCW laws in the country, when the lawmakers wrote this law, they not only looked at existing WI gun laws, but CCW laws from states around the country, thereby getting it “right” the first time and negating the issue of “add-on” legislation to protect law abiding gun owners…

    Congrats to Utah, now onto the rest of the country…

    • It is true that open carry was always legal in Wisconsin. However, it was not respected in the urban areas. I was told about 1982, by a Milwaukee police officer (we were both prepping for an IPSC competetion) that if I open carried in Milwaukee, I would be arrested. I asked, “What would I be charged with?” and was answered “Disorderly Conduct.”

      It was not until after Wisconsin passed its excellent Constitutional right to keep and bear arms amendment that Wisconsin started to be serious about protecting the right to keep and bear arms.

      Article I, Section 25
      The people have the right to keep and bear arms for security, defense, hunting, recreation or any other lawful purpose.

      I believe it was passed in 1998. The story of that deserves an article of its own.

    • The WI CCW law has been around for a long time.
      It was amended with Act 35 to allow licensees to carry concealed, and to specifically say that someone on his own property or business doesn’t need a license to carry concealed.

      And now open carry is specifically protected in THREE places in state law! :like:

  2. I recall a time in the sixties when the very existence of my friends and I was considered “disorderly conduct”.

    One day in ’67 I was arrested under that charge for carrying a Sousaphone (what most people mistakenly call a tuba) from the music store where I worked to a repair shop a few blocks away in downtown St. Louis. It had no case, so I put it around my shoulders as a musician would carry it in a marching band. I will confess to directing rude bass “blats” at people who looked at me funny.

  3. “Wisconsin then passed shall-issue concealed carry, one of the least restrictive in the nation.”

    If that is the case, then why has WI failed to honor Missouri’s CCW (something 37 other states have done). We do eight hours of training/qualifying, background checks with photo and fingerprinting?

  4. If we ever get handgun open carry in Texas, we will need that law here. Lots of open carry folks getting hit with disorderly conduct when carrying slung long arms.

  5. moves Utah toward a Wisconsin-level of protection of the right to keep and bear arms.

    But can Wisconsin parents carry in thier children’s schools? No. Can their teachers carry in thier schools? I don’t know. While there are some inconviences with UT’s laws, I would argue we got the important bits right. The constitution carry would have been nice though.

    • Similarily,

      Does Utah require fingerprints for a CCW? Yes
      Wisconsin does not.

      Does Utah require a photograph for a CCW? Yes
      Wisconsin does not.

      Does Utah limit training to one State approved course? Yes.
      Wisconsin does not.

      Does Utah limit unlicensed open carry to no round in chamber/ two action rule? Yes
      Wisconsin does not.

      On the other side, Wisconsin does not provide for issuance to non-residents. They could be making millions a year by offering them… and they do not.

      Wisconsin also has a much stronger state constitutional protection of the right to keep and bear arms than Utah does.

      Fact: Both states rank well up there in protection of the right to keep and bear arms, even if Wisconsin was a late-comer.

  6. Man, I thought that bill didn’t make it OUT of committee – YAHOO!

    now if the socialist GOP gov will sign it – that is the proof in the pudding

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