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New bill tells cops to back off charging people who open carry

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SALT LAKE CITY -- A new bill that will be introduced in the Utah State Legislature this year will make it tougher for police officers to charge someone with disorderly conduct if they are openly carrying a firearm.

"The problem that we've had is some police agencies have used the disorderly conduct law, in order to use it for gun control," Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, said in an interview with FOX 13 News.

Ray said his bill will clarify when and where police could cite someone for disorderly conduct if they are openly carrying their weapon.

"The purpose of this bill is to say, if you are legally carrying a gun and you're meeting all the parameters that is required, you cannot be cited for disorderly conduct," he said.

There have been two incidents in the past that have drawn public scrutiny about Utah's open carry law. In 2011, a man was cited for openly carrying a firearm at Orem's University Mall. Last year, Joseph Kelley carried a rifle over his back in a Riverdale J.C. Penney.

"I was just exercising my Second Amendment rights," Kelley told FOX 13 News. "I believe that a right not exercised is a right lost, and I believe that weapons in the hands of law-abiding citizens can be used to protect the innocent and keep your loved ones and families safe."

Kelley's decision went viral when photos of it were posted on Facebook, drawing both scorn and praise across the world. Kelley said he would support the bill -- as long as its language didn't try to infringe upon people's rights to openly carry.

"I don't believe we should be cited criminally for exercising our Second Amendment rights or protecting ourselves or our families regardless of what weapon we carry," Kelley said.

In past years, police groups have opposed Ray's bill. They wanted lawmakers to require weapons to be holstered or encased. They also sought to have the ability to stop and question people about their intentions.

"The public, obviously, is concerned about someone carrying a gun openly in public," said Park City Police Chief Wade Carpenter, the president of the Utah Chiefs of Police Association.

"We want the ability to approach and respect the Second Amendment, but at the same time, make sure public safety is intact and that our citizenry feels protected. We felt there was a portion that was missing in the last draft."

Carpenter pointed out that there have been no arrests for disorderly conduct amongst people who open-carry firearms since 2011. The Utah Chiefs of Police Association is adopting a "wait and see" approach to Ray's bill this year. Law enforcement groups had compromised on language last year, but it changed when the bill hit the House floor and it was defeated.

Ray said he is not sure if this year's bill will include the language the police sought in the past.

"If the individual is not responsible with their firearm or they are putting people in danger, there still are avenues to charge and to make that person be responsible for their weapon," he said.


  • M. Aaron

    I open carry daily, and the public (private citizens) rarely have any negative attitude or comments, the police up here in Box Elder and the Ogden area pay me no more attention than any other person, how ever when I go further south the cops (yes I know they don’t like that term but the ones I;m referring to have earned it) follow me, hover around me and not just one at a time, they begin to flock toward me and stare waiting for any reason to pounce, they need a law like this to put them in their place. If someone is obeying the law leave them alone, If they break the law then take care of it, how many drug deals, petty thefts, traffic violations and other crimes are they ignoring to harass law abiding citizens?

    • Dan Rosohac

      They are basically saying, while we respect the second amendment, we want to violate the fourth amendment and approach a law abiding person and question them about their intent of legally carrying a firearm – and we better add TO MAKE SURE THE PUBLIC SAFETY IS PROTECTED!!!

  • Ted

    we should not need laws that reinforce the second amendment: “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” is pretty clear. I am in favor of this bill only because the right to bear arms IS infringed. But what the bill SHOULD say is “it is legal to shoot any government agent, representative, or employee who attempts to infringe on a person’s right to keep and bear arms.”
    After all, it is the duty of every one of us to defend the constitution against all enemies, foreign or domestic. Anyone attempting to subvert the right to bear arms is presenting themselves as an enemy of the constitution.

  • Utah

    The government is our benevolent caretaker. We must surrender our rights, enumerated or natural, so that (they) we all “feel” safe. Feelings trump personal rights. Do it for the children. Your altruism will be rewarded with the light pressure of a heel of the jackboot.

    • Jake White

      Hi, Mr. Jones, this is your Safety Representative, writing to check in with you. We see you registered your firearms, and are proud of you for doing so, but we need to send a group over to make sure you only have those firearms your registered. They’ll be coming this Friday.

      Hi, your Safety Representative again. In light of the recent shootings, we decided to issue a Safety Recall on all ammunition feeding devices capable of storing more than 10 rounds. As you have 4 registered to you, a Collections Officer will be stopping by this Tuesday.

      Safety Representative here. The movie theater shooting in Florida has brought to light the danger of handguns, and a Collections Team will be coming by to see you about yours.

      The Office of Community Safety has issued a Safety Recall on all large-bore (.30 caliber or higher) rifles. You don’t need such a large bullet to hunt. Expect Collections Team this evening.

      The Office of Community Safety has issued a Safety Recall on all repeating firearms. The capacity to fire 10 rounds in a minutes is dangerous and not necessary for hunting. Expect Collections Team this evening.

      Mrs. Jones:
      The Office of Community Safety expresses its deepest regrets for the death of your husband, but the injury to a Collections Team Officer by his double-barrel shotgun required the Officer to be hospitalized. Payment for the Officer’s medical treatment should be made at your local Office of Community Safety.

  • spence

    new world order is on our feet time to take back ALL our rights media gives a little news like this to mask the bigger problem we are all dead to our government anyway it’s what is convenient for the elite take away guns and the people that uses them and then big brother has ALL THE POWER stand up now we all have rights we need to use them good luck fellow humans

  • Robin Snyder

    I was open and carry one day at Big O Tires I actually saved their lives if you would like to have an interview with me and Big O Tires contact me or big -o 78and 32 in west jordan and then you’ll find out how important it was for someone to show up with a gun….

  • ??????

    Fellow countrymen….This is getting out of control and the people need to take control back from the government. My tax dollars pay these officers wages and as a citizen they want the right to stop me,interrogate me and ticket me for breaking no laws? I have never been uncomfortable around those who open carry. ( I actually feel safer when they are around)!! Those who open carry are law abiding citizens, I am more afraid of the cowards who hide them down their pants!! The officers trying to take away my rights need to step down.

  • NewsRaider

    Wade Carpenter is a typical cop who thinks only cops should carry guns. His feelings are not covered by the Constitution, but a person’s right to carry a gun is protected.

  • Mark Alfredson

    The Second Ammendment is the Law. If the law enforcement agencies have a problem with that. Then they also have to be unarmed. Or the hand gun double and triple locked in the police station and only given after strict civilian scrutiny and screening.

  • Patrick Henry

    I carry daily and do so openly precisely for the sake of exercising my inherent right to keep and bear arms. I neither waive nor repudiate any of my rights. If “government” does not like it, too bad. Yes, they can shoot me dead I suppose, but that would prove nothing except they are criminals.

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