FIND GUN LAWS BY STATE

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR Bryan L. Ciyou is a trial and appellate attorney at the Indianapolis law firm of Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. He earned his BA with distinction and graduated through the honors program, along with his JD,... Read More

Arizona Gun Laws

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Introduction

Tracing its roots back to Western days and ranching, Arizona is one of a few states where open carry of a handgun is allowed without a license, unless there is a sign posted that clearly limits the possession of weapons on the licensed premises or a property owner verbally informs You to that effect.  Arizona is a constitutional carry state whereby a resident may carry a handgun without a license unless otherwise prohibited. Indeed, anyone spending much time in Arizona will observe this practice, particularly in less-urbanized areas and in particular in the desert.

Arizona is a large state. However, approximately only fifteen (15%) percent of land is privately owned. Most is public forest or land owned by the state trust, or Native American reservations.

The state has about 6,900,000 residents, and is located in the Southwest. It is bordered to the north by Utah, to the east by New Mexico, and to the west by California and Nevada, after crossing the Colorado River. It also shares an international boundary with Mexico. As a general rule, handguns are prohibited in Mexico.

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A. State Constitution

Regarding the right to bear arms, the Arizona Constitution states:

“The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself or the State shall not be impaired, but nothing in this section shall be construed as authorizing individuals or corporations to organize, maintain, or employ an armed body of men.”

[http://gunla.ws/saz1]

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B. Scope of Preemption

Arizona generally withholds or preempts local units of government from regulating firearms by statute, as follows:

(A) “Except as provided in subsection C of this section, a political subdivision of this state shall not enact any ordinance, rule or tax relating to the transportation, possession, carrying, sale, transfer or use of firearms or ammunition or any firearm or ammunition components in this state…”  [http://gunla.ws/saz2]

(C) “A political subdivision of this state shall not require or maintain a record in any form, whether permanent or temporary, including a list, log, or database, of any of the following:

  1. Any identifying information of a person who purchases or exchanges a weapon, who leave a weapon for repair or sale on contingent or who leave a weapon in temporary storage at any public establishment or public event.
  2. Any identifying information of a person who sells or transfers a firearm, unless the person is a federally licensed firearms dealer
  3. The description, including the serial number, of a weapon that is purchased, sold, transferred, exchanged, left for repair or sale on consignment or left in temporary storage at any public establishment or public event.”  [http://gunla.ws/saz3]

However, there is some regulation of firearms by local government that a person carrying or possessing or using a firearm must be aware of to avoid running afoul of the law. The categories where local government may regulate are set forth:

  • Imposing tax on income from the sale, lease or rental of firearms or ammunition like other tangible personal property
  • Prohibiting minors from possessing firearms without proper supervision
  • Restricting use of land by zoning, including firearms’ businesses
  • Regulating employees or contractors of the unit of government who are acting within the course and scope of employment or contract.

[http://gunla.ws/saz4]

Most recently, Arizona enacted a law that prevents localities from requiring background checks for private gun sales. [http://gunla.ws/m7ub] It is also important to note that state preemption does NOT apply to Indian Reservations, which are allowed to adopt their own gun laws, which are often stricter than Arizona state law.

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C. Reciprocal Carry

You must be at least 21 years old to apply for a permit to carry, or to carry a concealed firearm without a permit. However, You only need to be 18 to possess or open carry a handgun.

Arizona recognizes all other states’ valid permits, except Vermont, providing the following conditions are met:

“shall recognize a concealed weapon, firearm or handgun permit or license that is issued by another state or a political subdivision of another state if both: 1. The permit or license is recognized as valid in the issuing state. 2. The permit or license holder is all of the following: (a) Legally present in this state. (b) Not legally prohibited from possessing a firearm in this state.” [http://gunla.ws/saz5]

However, a person with a permit or license from another state may not carry in Arizona if the person is:

“under twenty-one years of age or is under indictment for, or has been convicted of, a felony offense in any jurisdiction, unless that conviction is expunged, set aside or vacated or the person’s rights have been restored and the person is currently not a prohibited possessor under state or federal law.” [http://gunla.ws/saz6]

Some states do not require a license to carry or have not entered into a written agreement and are not reciprocal. Anyone contemplating carry in Arizona should follow this hyperlink to the Arizona Department of Public Safety and verify with their Reciprocal and Recognition Agreement at the time of the proposed reciprocal carry in Arizona.  Arizona’s most current reciprocity table may be referenced by this hyperlink. [http://gunla.ws/az1]

Note: Arizona will only honor Idaho Enhanced Permits and will not honor the Idaho Standard Permit.

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D. Constitutional Carry

Arizona allows anyone who is at least 21 years old and not prohibited from owning firearms to carry a concealed firearm without a permit. This is not limited to Arizona residents, meaning residents of other states may carry in Arizona even without reciprocity. In addition, anyone who is at least 18 years old and not prohibited from owning firearms may possess and open carry a handgun, but they cannot carry it concealed until they turn 21. It should be noted that a CCP is required in order to carry in a bar. [http://gunla.ws/az2]

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E. NFA Items

Arizona permits ownership of all NFA items, provided they are legally obtained pursuant to federal law. Hunting with suppressors is legal. CLEOs are required to sign an application for the transfer of any item regulated under the NFA within 60 days if the applicant is not prohibited by law from receiving it. [http://gunla.ws/hww3] & [http://gunla.ws/kbpg]

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F. Carrying Firearms in Vehicles

Anyone who is legally allowed to possess a firearm may openly carry a loaded firearm in a vehicle whether in a holster, case, compartment, or in plain view. Adults between the age of 18 and 21 may openly carry a loaded or unloaded firearm in a vehicle only if it is in plain view. Property owners cannot prohibit people from keeping a firearm in their locked vehicle, or in a locked compartment of a motorcycle, so long as the firearm is not visible from outside. [http://gunla.ws/az3]

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G. Duty to Inform Officers

Arizona does not require individuals to inform a LEO of a permit or license to carry immediately upon contact, but if an Officer asks about a weapon, by law, an answer must be supplied.  However, You do not need to disclose the existence of the weapon if it is contained in a visible case, holster, scabbard, pack, or luggage; or if it is in a storage compartment, map pocket, trunk, or glove compartment. [http://gunla.ws/az4]

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H. Private “No Gun” signs

It is illegal to carry on any private property or private establishment where the owner or any other person having lawful control over the property has given reasonable notice forbidding the carrying of deadly weapons or firearms. Failure to obey a properly posted sign or the verbal instructions of the property owner or those who represent constitutes trespass.

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I. Firearms in Establishments that serve Alcohol

There are restrictions governing the carrying of firearms in establishments that hold a liquor license. Unless the business has a properly posted sign banning carrying firearms on the premises, it is generally lawful for people with a CCP to carry into the establishment. The sign must be located in a conspicuous location and be displayed right next to the liquor license in order to be valid and enforceable. It is illegal to consume alcohol while carrying a firearm. Note that You must have a valid CCP in order to carry in these establishments; constitutional carry doesn’t allow You to carry in establishments that serve alcohol, and open carry is also illegal there. The prohibition against carrying guns in establishments with liquor licenses does not apply to guests staying at hotels or motels that serve alcohol. [http://gunla.ws/az5]

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J. Self-defense Laws

Arizona has both Castle Doctrine and SYG laws. There is no duty to retreat when attacked in any place You have a legal right to be, and You may use deadly force in self-defense if You reasonably believe it is imminently necessary to prevent death or SBI, kidnapping, robbery, burglary, forcible rape, aggravated assault, or arson of an occupied building. [http://gunla.ws/az6]

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K. Firearms on Native American Reservations

Native American reservations cover more than 25% of Arizona’s landmass, and may have more restrictive gun laws than the rest of the state. State preemption laws do not apply to Tribal reservations. Many tribes such as the Navajo have laws prohibiting the carrying of firearms (especially without a permit), and often seize firearms found during traffic stops, particularly if they are loaded and accessible to the driver. You must present proof of ownership in order to have a seized gun returned to You. Tribal areas still subject to the federal safe passage provision of FOPA, meaning guns must be stored unloaded and out of reach of the driver, such as in the trunk. It is recommended that You store guns unloaded and out of reach when traveling through tribal areas to avoid the possibility of having Your firearm confiscated. [http://gunla.ws/az7]

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L. Criminal Provisions

A prudent person contemplating possessing a firearm in a state other than where they live should understand the other state’s basic criminal laws. The top criminal acts relative to Arizona’s penal orientation, relating to firearms, are set forth below.

Under Arizona law, a license to carry a handgun does not permit carry in any of the following places or circumstances:

  • Anywhere prohibited by Federal law
  • In a polling place on an election day
  • At a nuclear or hydroelectric power station
  • The secured area of an airport
  • At a jail or prison
  • In or on school property, property being used by a school for a school function, or a school bus. Firearms may be stored in a vehicle parked in a school parking lot as long as the firearm is unloaded, not visible from outside the vehicle, and the vehicle is locked.
  • At a public establishment or event after the sponsor or operator of the establishment/event asks You to remove Your weapon and place it in a temporary secure location.  If the sponsor of an establishment or event asks You to rmove Your firearm, they must provide You with a secure location to store it and allow You to retrieve the firearm immediately upon exiting the event. [http://gunla.ws/saz8]
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M. Other Considerations

In addition, always consider the other areas of restrictions relating to firearms and/or reciprocal carry, including, but not limited to the following:

  • Military bases
  • Native American reservations
  • Correctional facilities/courts
  • Federal buildings
  • Local government limitations
  • National parks and wildlife refuges
  • Hunting rules and regulations

For a list of places where carrying a firearm is prohibited, see: [http://gunla.ws/az8]

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N. Open Carry

Open carry is legal in Arizona. Places as listed in the “Criminal Provisions” above apply to those who open carry. The minimum age for open carry is 18.

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FIND GUN LAWS BY STATE

Table of Contents

About the author
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Bryan L. Ciyou is a trial and appellate attorney at the Indianapolis law firm of Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. He earned his BA with distinction and graduated through the honors program, along with his JD,... Read More