Domestic Violence & Firearms in Utah

Posted on September 3, 2015

Utah law does not:

  • Prohibit individuals convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors from purchasing or possessing firearms or ammunition, unlike federal law;
  • Require courts to notify domestic abusers when they become prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition under federal law; or
  • Require the surrender of firearms or ammunition by domestic abusers who have become prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition under federal law.

Firearm Prohibitions for Persons Subject to Domestic Violence Protective Orders

When a petition for an order of protection is filed, the court may prohibit the respondent from purchasing, using, or possessing a firearm upon a finding that the respondent’s use or possession of a weapon may pose a serious threat of harm to the petitioner.1 The court may make such an order ex parte (without notice to the respondent).2 A petition for such an order may be brought by any emancipated person or person 16 years of age or older who:

  • Is or was a spouse of the other party;
  • Is or was living as if a spouse of the other party;
  • Is related by blood or marriage to the other party;
  • Has one or more children in common with the other party;
  • Is the biological parent of the other party’s unborn child; or
  • Resides or has resided in the same residence as the other party.3

However, a petition for such an order may not be brought if one party is the natural parent, adoptive parent, or step-parent of the other, who is a minor, or if both parties are natural, adoptive, step, or foster siblings who are under 18 years of age.4

If a finding is made that the subject of a child protective order or an ex parte child protective order may pose a serious threat of harm to the minor, the order may prohibit the subject from purchasing, using or possessing a firearm.5

In 2013, Utah also adopted a law authorizing a court, when issuing a dating violence protective order, to prohibit the respondent from possessing or acquiring firearms if the order is issued after a hearing, the preponderance of the evidence shows the respondent has committed abuse or dating violence against the petitioner, and there is clear and convincing evidence that the respondent’s use or possession of a firearm poses a serious threat of harm to the petitioner or a designated family or household member.6

Federal law also prohibits firearm possession by certain protective order defendants.

Removal or Surrender of Firearms at the Scene of a Domestic Violence Incident

Utah requires a law enforcement officer who responds to an allegation of domestic violence to confiscate the weapon or weapons involved in the alleged domestic violence incident.7 Utah law also authorizes a gun owner to voluntarily “commit” the firearm to law enforcement for 60 days if the owner believes another cohabitant is an immediate threat to himself or herself, to the gun owner, or to any other person.8

See our Domestic Violence & Firearms policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.


  1. Utah Code Ann. §§ 78B-7-106(2)(d), 78B-7-107(2). []
  2. Id. []
  3. Utah Code Ann. §§ 77-36-1(4), 78B-7-102(2), (5), 78B-7-106, and 78B-7-107(2). []
  4. Utah Code Ann. § 78B-7-102(3). []
  5. Utah Code Ann. § 78B-7-204(1)(d). []
  6. Utah Code Ann. § 78B-7-404(3)(b), (5). []
  7. Utah Code Ann. § 77-36-2.1(1)(b). Law enforcement may not return the confiscated weapon if (i) the law enforcement officer or agency is unable to determine the legal owner of the weapon; (ii) the legal owner may not lawfully possess the weapon; or (iii) the legal owner was convicted of a crime for which the weapon was held as evidence. Utah Code Ann. § 77-24-2(d). []
  8. Utah Code Ann. § 53-5c-201. []