For many Utah citizens, the right to own a gun extends beyond hunting. Having the means to protect family members in an emergency situation like a break-in is often the reason people claim for keeping a gun in the house. However, this same gun can turn a domestic dispute into a serious injury or a homicide.
Statistics tracking domestic violence homicide rates show that two-thirds of spouses or ex-spouses murdered are done so by guns. Women who are abused by an intimate partner feel less safe when there is a gun in the house since abusive partners often threaten to use weapons against them. This is why federal law makes it illegal for anyone convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence charge to own or purchase a firearm — for the rest of their lives. There are also restrictions placed on the alleged abuser if an intimate partner takes out an order of protection.
States have some leeway in how they enforce these federal mandates. Utah has a strict interpretation of firearms prohibitions when a protective order is awarded to a family member cohabiting with the alleged abuser. In addition, law enforcement officers are required to confiscate weapons used in a domestic violence incident. This includes making threats to shoot or kill, even if the weapon was not fired.
Abusive behavior, especially violence or threats with a weapon, should never be tolerated. However, under Utah law, you can be arrested for threatening someone with violence without proof. No one should be unfairly penalized for something they blurted out in the heat of an argument or that is untrue. A knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer can help you tell your side of the story and negotiate the best outcome.