Utah gun expert talks about fatal police shooting of ‘sovereign citizen’

Mar 10, 2023, 6:30 PM
The area of State St at 200 E is closed as is 100 east at main street due to a large police presenc...
Farmington police released body cam footage on Wednesday of a traffic stop that led to an officer-involved shooting on March 1. Photo credit: Kristin Murphy, Deseret News.

SALT LAKE CITY — A gun expert discusses a recent fatal shooting of a “sovereign citizen” by police in Farmington, Utah, and what to do if you are pulled over by police while armed with a weapon.

A police officer pulled over driver Chase Allan, 25, on March 1 after noticing Allan was driving with a illegitimate license plate. Allan refused to comply when asked multiple times by the officer to provide identification and vehicle registration. Allan was driving with a license plate that read: “American State Citizen, Utah.”

“I don’t need registration and I don’t answer questions,” Allan responds, at which point the officer calls for backup and tells Allan he’s being detained as reported by AP News.

He was asked many times by police, Allan refuses to leave the vehicle. 

A split-second later, the officer yells “Gun!” Backup officers move to flank the vehicle’s rear and passenger side. They begin shooting into the car. An officer yells to cease fire after several seconds of shooting. Officers have not claimed that Allan returned fire, according to AP News.


Sovereign citizen interactions with police

  • The May 20, 2010, a fatal shooting of two West Memphis, Arkansas, police officers and the wounding of two others, allegedly by “sovereign citizens” Jerry and Joe Kane, served to remind the law enforcement community of the threat that may be presented by sovereign citizens.
  • On August 16, 2012, two sheriff’s deputies were fatally shot and two others were wounded during two confrontations in Louisiana. At least one of the individuals arrested in connection with these incidents had previously proclaimed himself to be a sovereign citizen. Both reports of the shootings were published online by International Association of Chiefs of Police.

Utah gun expert weighs in

Clark Aposhian, a firearms instructor and chairman of the Utah Shooting Sports Council and Gun Owners of America, said under Utah law now, if a driver is not an individual who is restricted from possessing, purchasing, transferring or owning a firearm and is 18 or older, that person is allowed to have a loaded firearm in his or her vehicle without a required permit.

He joined Dave & Dujanovic with hosts Dave Noriega and Debbie Dujanovic to discuss the situation. 

The Utah Supreme Court ruled, Aposhian said, “that law enforcement on a normal administrative stop . . . that it’s an improper question to ask, ‘Hey, are there any firearms in the vehicle?'”

Considering what occurred before during the traffic stop, Aposhian said he could see why an officer might want to ask that question about firearms.

“I didn’t hear him ask that, at least not on the body camera footage that I watched. I also didn’t hear the driver offer any information about a gun,” Debbie said.

What to do when pulled over with a weapon, gun expert advises

“What do you instruct gun owners to do when they’re in a car with a gun and the cop is asking them to get out?” Debbie asked.

Aposhian said if the officer is not instructing you to exit the vehicle, you (gun owner) do not need to say you have a gun.

“As long as you’re not getting out of the vehicle or the firearm will not be accidentally or inadvertently displayed or discovered. . . . You don’t need to say anything.

“But if you’re gonna get out of the car, yeah, you need to effectively communicate to the cop, ‘Hey, I’ve got a permit and I have a gun. It’s in the glove box or it’s on the seat or it’s on my hip’ or something like that so that officer doesn’t find out in a flash, in a moment by seeing it that you have a firearm,” Aposhian said.


Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play. 

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Utah gun expert talks about fatal police shooting of ‘sovereign citizen’