Utah’s Department of Public Safety, Bureau of Criminal Identification (“BCI”) is tasked with reviewing applications for concealed firearm permits (concealed carry permits) in Utah. Certain circumstances will result in an automatic hard denial. Other denials can involve circumstances that give BCI discretion in approving or denying the permit application. The following article discusses a few of the more common issues that can result in a denial.
There is a difference between the right to purchase, possess, use, and own a firearm under the Second Amendment and the government’s discretion and authority to issue a concealed firearm permit. Under Utah law, you can sometimes be denied a concealed firearm permit even if you are not a restricted person for purposes of firearm ownership, possession, or use.
The Legislature has given BCI a degree of discretion in determining whether to issue a concealed firearm permit under Utah Code 53-5-704. Many of the reasons for denial involve criminal convictions. Other denials can be based on past conduct or conditions that did not result in the filing of criminal charges.
Criminal convictions that commonly form the basis for a concealed firearm permit denial include:
- felony convictions;
- violent crime (non-domestic)
- domestic violence convictions;
- crimes involving alcohol, narcotics, or controlled substances;
- convictions for crimes involving “moral turpitude.”
Danger to Self or Others
A denial can also based on conduct that was never charged and never resulted in a conviction. If a denial is based on a determination there is reasonable cause to believe that the applicant “has been or is a danger to self or others,” that determination must be demonstrated by evidence.
Evidence that a person is a danger to self or others can include:
- prior conduct involving unlawful violence or threats;
- “past participation” in incidents that involved threats or violence even if the applicant was not directly engaged in making threats or committing acts of violence;
- prior weapons-related convictions.
In making a determination of danger to self or others, BCI is allowed to inspect and consider juvenile court records and records of adult arrests or convictions that have been previously expunged.
Of course, a person who is already “restricted” or otherwise not qualified to purchase, possess, or use a firearm will not be approved for a concealed firearm permit. Restricted status can be based on-state or federal law requirements.
Discretion and Appeals
BCI can initially deny an application for a concealed firearm permit, but then reverse their decision if appropriate mitigating circumstances are shown. Many of the statutory grounds for denial state that BCI “may” deny, suspend, or revoke a permit.
If BCI denies an initial application, the applicant has a right to appeal and request an opportunity to present mitigating circumstances to the Concealed Firearm Review Board.
Addressing Prior Criminal Convictions
Some denials may be based on the nature of the criminal conviction; other denials are based on the level of the offense. There are additional actions that may improve the odds of being approved for a permit.
Example 1 – 402 Reduction
- A felony drug conviction makes a person “restricted” under Utah Code 76-10-503.
- A 402 reduction that lowers the felony drug conviction to a misdemeanor can remove the “restricted status, but the applicant may still be denied a concealed firearm permit because the conviction involved drugs.
Example 2 – Expungement
- A domestic violence conviction can be the basis for firearms restriction under Utah code 76-10-503 regardless of the level of the offense.
- A domestic violence conviction also (logically) will result in a denial of a concealed firearm permit.
- If the domestic violence conviction is expunged (either through the courts or by the Board of Pardons), the expungement may restore general gun rights and may also allow the issuance of a concealed firearm permit.
Remember that the Second Amendment does not guarantee the issuance of a concealed firearm permit. Similarly, an application denial from BCI does not necessarily mean that you are a restricted person.
**PLEASE NOTE that this article is not a comprehensive discussion of all of the reasons for gun rights restriction or concealed firearm permit denial. Other reasons for restriction or denial exist and should be discussed directly with an attorney if there is any reason for concern.
If you have been denied an application for a concealed firearm permit, denied an application to purchase a firearm, or if you have other questions about rights or restrictions relating to firearms ownership or possession, consultation with an experienced attorney is strongly recommended.