First, here's the statute that defines what, in Utah, is legally considered a loaded firearm:
U.C.A. 76-10-502. When weapon deemed loaded.
(1) For the purpose of this chapter, any pistol, revolver, shotgun, rifle, or other weapon described in this part shall be deemed to be loaded when there is an unexpended cartridge, shell, or projectile in the firing position.
(2) Pistols and revolvers shall also be deemed to be loaded when an unexpended cartridge, shell, or projectile is in a position whereby the manual operation of any mechanism once would cause the unexpended cartridge, shell, or projectile to be fired.
(3) A muzzle loading firearm shall be deemed to be loaded when it is capped or primed and has a powder charge and ball or shot in the barrel or cylinders.
Let's understand this.
- Any firearm is loaded if there is a live round in the firing position (e.g. under the hammer).
- Any handgun is also considered loaded if you can fire the gun by any single mechanical action (e.g. just pulling the trigger).
- Any revolver with a live round under the hammer.
- Any autoloader with a live round chambered.
- An uncocked, double-action revolver with no live round under the hammer, but a live round in the next chamber to rotate in.
- A revolver with a live round under the hammer, but no live round in the next chamber to rotate in.
- A double-action revolver with no live round under the hammer, and no live round in the next chamber to rotate in.
- A single-action revolver with no live round under the hammer, but with a live round in the next chamber to rotate in.
- An autoloader with no live round chambered, but with a fully charged magazine in the well.
There are some consequences to this. Since a person in Utah without a permit to carry a concealed weapon cannot openly carry a loaded firearm, that person can still comply with the law by openly carrying a legally unloaded firearm, such as a Glock with a full magazine, but nothing chambered. However, this same person must take care not to carry within 1000' of a school property, and must be very careful that the firearm does not become concealed.
As always, I am not a lawyer, so read and analyze the statutes for yourself.