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Thread: Independence Day events in Sandy City

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2006

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    Apologies for the verbose post.

    As is becoming a tradition, Independence Day is a great day for me to take a gun for a walk. (Of course so are most other days.) Last year I open carried all day long at Sandy City's events without any official contact whatsoever. So once again I started the day cooking at our church breakfast (not held at the church house) with the 1911 condition 1 in a paddle holster. Interestingly, considering the non-event last year was, after taking a nap before heading to the midway for some fun for the kids and the parade, I had a distinct impression that I should not carry a round in the chamber. It seemed an odd feeling, but in my life I’m slowly coming to realize the benefit of heeding such impressions. So I left the chamber empty, but did leave the hammer back and manual safety engaged. (My BUG had one in the pipe.) This year, we arrived at the Sandy City midway later in the day with much smaller crowds than last year and my open carried 1911 was noticed very quickly.

    A couple of Sandy PD officers approached me. I saw them coming and said hello. They asked if I had a permit of any kind and I said yes and produced my Utah CCW permit. They indicated that if I wanted to carry a loaded gun with a permit I needed to conceal it. I smiled and politely explained that my permit exempted me from the prohibition on carrying concealed and that it is also exempted me from the prohibition on carrying loaded, but did not require to me to either carry loaded or to conceal. They suggested again I really should un-tuck my shirt to at least make an effort to conceal the gun. With a smile on my face I told I appreciated their opinion, but that I was well within my legal rights and I would carry my firearm openly. They relented, but suggested I might get hassled for having an open gun in such a crowded place. I smiled again and thanked them for their concern.

    My wife and I watched the kids go on a couple of more of the large inflatable “rides.” I then saw a Sandy PD Sergeant approaching. I had my permit waiting for him. He didn’t even look at it, but politely said, “Yes, I know you have a permit. But if you want to carry that loaded it has to be concealed,” and said he needed to visit with me off to the side of the crowds. I obliged and followed him over to the edge of the midway. I explained that the gun actually did not have a round in the chamber. He asked, “Then why is the hammer back?” I replied, “Just how I chose to carry it today,” and he asked if I’d show him the empty chamber. I said yes, but as we both looked for a place where I could un-holster without too many people around, I also said, “The gun is unloaded, but I believe your interpretation of Utah statute is incorrect. I am not required to conceal any more than I am required to carry the gun loaded.”

    He said we could go look at statute with the Lieutenant if I wanted to and I readily agreed, but asked if I could let my wife know I was going to be gone for a few minutes. That was fine and I trotted, un-escorted, back over to my wife, explained to her I needed to go straighten out a misunderstanding with the PD over open carry and that I’d call her cell phone in a few minutes. I walked back to find the Sergeant waiting for me and we walked a few dozen yards down to the Sandy PD mobile command, a nice motor home. He found the Lieutenant, who invited me into the motor home and explained it was brand new and they had not yet put a code book in it, but he had sent someone to get one.

    I introduced myself and he asked if he knew me from somewhere as he thought he recognized my name. I explained I was public policy director for GOUtah!, was a volunteer community coordinator for Sandy City, and had run for the City Council a couple times in the past. We had met during a candidates’ orientation and he remembered me from there.

    We were still waiting for the code book to show up when I noticed he had a laptop with wireless access so I suggested we look on-line. I pointed him to the proper web page and directed him to 76-10-504 and 76-10-505, the two sections that prohibit carrying a concealed or a loaded weapon, respectively, unless one is otherwise authorized by law. For the life of me I could not remember the exact section that contained the exemption (76-10-523). I tried looking in the section on CCW permits themselves (53-5-700), but quickly realized it wasn’t in there. But since there was no doubt about me having a permit and being exempt the only question was whether I was under any obligation to conceal. Since the gun wasn’t legally loaded, there was no doubt that I was currently legal, but there was some disagreement about whether I would be if I chose to chamber a round.

    He and I and another officer discussed it for a bit. The Lt. said he had read the section several times and had always read it as requiring a loaded gun to be concealed. He and the other officer were both very pro-gun and agreed that if I was correct, they would need to make sure there was some training for their officers to avoid future mistakes. The second officer with us ended up going to the GOUtah! web page and signed up for our email alerts while we were visiting. He also opined how much he really disliked some of the stupid “man with a gun calls” that turned out to be someone sitting on the front porch cleaning a gun, “which is perfectly legal.”

    They agreed a person could carry an open gun anytime they wanted without any permit as long as it wasn't loaded and the only question was about a loaded gun with a permit not being concealed. They both agreed they weren’t nearly as concerned about the guns they could see as the ones they couldn’t, had “never had a bad experience with a CCW permit holder,” and at my question also realized that they had never had a problem with a person carrying a gun in a holster. They had once or twice found a gun in holster “secreted in a car” but never run into any problems with anybody who was actually using a holster on their person.

    About this time, two or three other, much more important issues came up for them. I asked if I was good to go. They said yes and I was on my way with the 1911 still in full view on my hip just as my wife and kids walked past the command post. We spent the next couple of hours around the area, did some shopping, watched the parade, and had no more contact with the police department. One fellow sitting next to us on the parade route asked if the gun was real, and asked about it being cocked. I said it was real and explained that it was the proper, safest way to carry the 1911 as that was how it was designed to be carried. No reason to tell a complete stranger the chamber was empty. ;-) He seemed a bit uncomfortable, but didn’t say much else. Toward the end of the parade he asked if I was an officer and I said no, but explained that with a Utah firearms permit I could carry either openly or concealed, and it was just way too hot for a jacket. That warmed things up a bit and we chatted a bit more before the parade ended.

    Despite what I am convinced is a good-faith, misunderstanding of the law when it comes to any obligation to conceal a loaded gun carried pursuant to a CCW permit, every one of the officers involved was absolutely courteous and professional. Having spent a total of 20 to 30 minutes visiting with them, I was never even disarmed. My firearm never even left the holster. I was taken at my word that the gun was not loaded and/or convinced them to a sufficient degree it was legal even if it was. A letter of thanks is headed to the department for their professionalism.

    All in all, a relatively positive encounter with the opportunity to educate a bit. I don’t know that I fully convinced them of the correctness of my position, but a start at least. I did come home and load the relevant code sections into my PDA as well as printing them in small font and putting them into my wallet after Clark Aposhian was good enough to remind me of the section I wanted. No need to let a brain cramp leave any doubts about exact code sections in the future.

    Charles Hardy

  2. #2
    Regular Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Lehi, Utah, USA

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    It’s all about knowing the laws. I have been stopped once for OC, had I not known my rights and the law I would have had to spendsome time straitening things out at the police station.I know I am far from knowing everything, but just the knowledge of the basics seems to usually be enough. After reading this the idea of carrying a copy of the laws in a wallet or PDA seems like a great idea. I know I added Clark Aposhian to my cell phone after the first time I was stopped; now I just need to make a good document to carry.

    Anyone know if they make an official Wallet copy of the gun laws?

  3. #3
    Regular Member
    Join Date
    May 2007
    West Valley City, Utah, USA

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    I think the wallet copy is a great idea.

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