The first thing you should note is that Arizona laws do not cover only guns, but all "weapons" in general, so the rules given here should apply to any weapon that is not illegal in and of itself (such as nunchaku).
Arizona has some of the loosest weapon restriction laws in the nation. Many things that are allowed in this state would get you arrested anywhere else. Because the penalties for weapons possession can be extremely severe, and differ drastically from state to state, keep in mind that the following rules apply only to the state of Arizona.
Open Carry Rule
Arizona is an "open carry" state, which means that anyone can legally carry any (legal) weapon in the open, without any permits, as long as the weapon is:
- Kept in a holster or scabbard
- At least partially visible on your person, or;
- Kept in a container or the glove compartment of a vehicle (still must be holstered, however)
This means that it is perfectly legal to carry a loaded handgun or revolver on a belt holster, out in the open, while you walk down the street, and no special permits are required. You CANNOT, however, unholster that weapon without a very good reason, nor can you walk around holding a gun in your hand or tucked into your pants. You must have a bona fide holster or case to keep it in, and both the gun AND holster must be openly visible.
However, the cases do not have to be locked, unlike most states, nor even capable of locking.
Concealed Carry Permits
Known as "CCW's," concealed carry permits allow anyone to carry a weapon on their person out of sight. It used to be illegal to carry concealed weapons without a permit. After July 29, 2010, the Arizona Constitutional Carry Law amended the rules so that people in Arizona can legally carry a concealed weapon without a permit.
However, Arizona still issues CCW permits so that Arizona citizens who wish to carry concealed weapons in other states can comply with the laws of those states. CCW permit holders can also be within 1000 feet of a school zone while carrying a weapon, in compliance with federal law. In addition, CCW permit holders do not have to undergo an additional background check when purchasing a new firearm.
CCWs are available to anyone who meets the state of Arizona's criteria:
- Be at least 21 years of age or 19 years of age with proof of military service or honorable discharge.
- Have no felony convictions. If you have a felony conviction, it must be expunged or the right to possess firearms is restored.
- Be in the country legally (either a resident of Arizona or a U.S. citizen).
- Not suffer from mental illness or adjudicated mentally incompetent.
- Pass an approved firearm safety course.
The following firearm courses have been approved by Arizona to obtain a concealed weapons permit. You only need to complete ONE to meet the requirement:
- Any firearm safety course offered to the public, including junior college courses
- Any hunter safety course approved by the state
- NRA firearm safety or training course
- Government firearms safety course
- Currently valid or expired firearm permit from another state where training or testing is a requirement
- Proof of current military service or honorable discharge
Even in Arizona, there are some places where no guns are allowed, permit or not. All firearms are prohibited in the following places:
- Establishments that service alcohol and which prohibits firearms. (Even if you can enter with your firearm, you cannot drink while in possession of a firearm)
- Any public event where the operator requests you relinquish your arms (must provide on-site storage if such a request is made)
- The grounds of all public schools, state universities, or community colleges (unless otherwise permitted by law)
- Polling places (on election day only)
- Correctional facilities (including parking lots)
Must I Inform Police of My Weapon?
Strictly as a matter of law, no, you are not required to disclose the fact that you are armed to anyone, even police, unless they directly ask you. However, common sense may dictate otherwise, and most gun enthusiasts would recommend you alert the officer to your weapon immediately, to prevent any dangerous misunderstandings. Should misunderstanding occur, you might need the services of a qualified Arizona lawyer to assist you - use LegalMatch to help you locate the nearest criminal defense lawyer.
I Have a Permit From Another State, Will it be Recognized?
If you are just a temporary visitor, then Arizona will very likely recognize your gun permit (unless you are from one of the handful of states that refuses to recognize Arizona's permit reciprocally). If you are becoming a resident of Arizona, you must reapply.
Will My Permit Be Recognized Anywhere Else?
About 36 other states recognize Arizona's CCW permit, meaning you can carry a weapon concealed within those states as well, as long as you are there only temporarily. HOWEVER, as mentioned earlier, other state's laws differ dramatically on gun possession rules, especially concealed guns, so it is very important you be careful and contact an attorney familiar with the laws of the state you are traveling to before bringing a gun into it. Otherwise, you may be subjected to severe fines and/or a jail sentence.