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.