Utah’s hate and gun laws have significant gaps that allow people to keep and access guns, including assault weapons, after they have been convicted of violent hate crimes.
Access to Guns for People Convicted of Hate Crimes in Utah
|Violence with Severe Bodily Injury||Violence with Bodily Injury||Other Crimes Involving Intentional Use of Force||Threats with Deadly Weapons|
Other Credible Threats to Physical Safety
|Federal Law||Very limited or no access||Significant access||Significant access||Significant access|
|State Law||Very limited or no access||Significant access||Significant access||Significant access|
Under a law enacted in 2019, Utah authorizes extended prison sentences for people convicted of hate crimes. This law generally classifies offenses as one degree more severe than the underlying crime if it is proven the offender intentionally selected the victim because of the victim’s perceived ancestry, disability, ethnicity, gender identity, national origin, race, religion, sexual orientatio, or other enumerated attributes.1 Under this law, Class A misdemeanors (typically punishable by less than one year in prison) are reclassified as felonies (punishable by up to five years) when perpetrated as hate crimes.2
Utah law generally prohibits people from accessing firearms if they have been convicted of a felony.3 Federal law similarly prohibits people from accessing guns if they have been convicted of a felony punishable by over one year in prison, or a state law misdemeanor punishable by more than two years.4 In Utah, misdemeanors are not punishable by more than one year,5 so hate crime offenders are generally subject to state and federal firearm restrictions only if they are convicted of felonies (or crimes reclassified as felonies under Utah’s new hate crime law).
Utah generally defines violent conduct as a firearm-prohibiting felony if it involves the use of a dangerous weapon or force likely to produce death or serious bodily injury.6 People convicted on or after May 14, 2019 of hate crime assault resulting in “substantial” bodily injury or stalking with threats of violence are also generally subject to both state and federal firearm restrictions since Utah’s new hate crime law reclassifies these offenses as felonies when they are hate crimes.7
However, people convicted of violent hate crime misdemeanors generally remain eligible to access firearms in Utah under both state and federal law, including people convicted of violently injuring or choking someone in an assault, threateningly brandishing firearms, or making credible threats of serious violence.8
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- Utah Code Ann. § 76-3-203.14, enacted by 2019 UT SB 103. A separate Utah law also authorizes extended jail terms for lower-level (class B or C) misdemeanors committed with intent to terrorize or intimidate a person from freely exercising legally or constitutionally protected rights, but this statute does not reclassify any misdemeanors as felonies or trigger any state or federal firearm restrictions. See Utah Code Ann. §§ 76-3-203.3(2)(a); 76-3-203.3(3).
- Utah Code Ann. § 76-3-203.14(3)(a)(iii); Utah Code Ann.§ 76-3-204; Utah Code Ann.§ 76-3-203(3).
- Utah Code Ann. § 76-10-503(1)(b)(i), (3).
- 18 U.S.C. § 922 (g)(1); 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(20)(B).
- Utah Code Ann. § 76-3-204.
- Utah Code Ann. §§ 76-5-103(1)(b) (felony “aggravated assault”); 76-5-106.5(8)(a) (felony aggravated stalking).
- Utah Code Ann. § 76-5-102(3) (class A misdemeanor “assault” resulting in substantial bodily injury) re-classified as felony if hate crime.
- Utah Code Ann. §§ 76-5-102 (class B misdemeanor “assault” not resulting in substantial bodily injury); 76-5-106 (“harassment”); 76-5-107 (“threat of violence”). See also, Utah Code Ann. § 76-5-103(1)(b) (for limited instances where choking is felony aggravated assault).