Gun violence at HOA meetings is rare, but receives much media attention. No one will forget the tragic murders of two women and the wounding of three others in Arizona when a man opened fire during an HOA meeting in 2000. More recently is the shooting in Louisville, Kentucky, where a homeowner shot and killed two board members during an HOA meeting. Disagreements at board meetings are not likely to end so tragically, but gun control laws are on our radar following the senseless massacre in Newtown, Connecticut.
There are certain areas such as houses of worship, areas designated as secure areas in airports and universities, and private residences, where one may be prohibited from carrying a firearm, concealed or otherwise. In order to prohibit persons from entering a private residence with a firearm, the owner, lessee, or person in lawful possession of the property, must provide notice that carrying firearms on the property is prohibited. Notice may be given via personal communication to the actor or by posting signs that are likely to be seen by persons entering the private residence. See, Utah Code § 53-5-710 and Utah Code § 76-10-530.
HOAs normally conduct meetings on common areas or common elements owned by the HOA and the law in Utah is not clear as to whether an HOA may prohibit persons from carrying firearms to HOA meetings held at these locations. There are no specific requirements for signage that should be used to prohibit persons from carrying firearms to an HOA meeting, but here are some suggested guidelines: (1) post signage in a conspicuous location at all entrance locations; (2) the sign should contain a pictogram showing a firearm with a red circle and a diagonal red line across the firearm; and, (3) the sign should contain the words “No firearms allowed.”
Preventing violence at HOA meetings does not necessarily begin with gun control laws. It is not a good idea to confront someone with a weapon. If there is fear that someone may bring a weapon to and/or the potential for violence at a meeting, the board of directors or homeowners should consult with HOA professionals such as community managers and attorneys. These professionals can advise when and how to use security and law enforcement at HOA meetings.