You should first register that Arizona regulations do not cover only guns but all “weapons” in general, so the rules given here should apply to any weapon that is not prohibited in and of itself (such as nunchaku).
Arizona has some of the loosest weapon restriction laws in the nation. Many things allowed in this state would get you arrested anywhere else. Because the punishments for weapons possession can be incredibly intense, and differ drastically from state to state, keep in mind that the following rules apply only to Arizona.
When Is Gun Possession a Crime?
Gun control laws limit gun possession to ensure the safety of the gun owner and those around them. Whether it is unlawful to possess a gun depends on a few different factors like a person’s age, background, the type of gun possessed, and whether they violate concealed carry laws.
What Are the Individual Restrictions on Gun Possession?
Gun possession may be restricted based on miscellaneous elements, including:
- Age/Type of Gun: Federal law restricts the sale of a handgun to anyone under age 18. The same restriction does not apply to long guns like rifles and shotguns. However, each state can implement more strict age requirements, so the law differs by state, and the minimum age to buy a handgun in many states is 21 years old.
- Background: A person’s background can also make it illegal for them to possess a gun.
Federal law prevents the sale of a gun to anyone who:
- Has been convicted of or charged with a crime in federal court that carries a possible sentence of over a year in jail (generally, these are felonies)
- Has been convicted of or charged with a crime in state court that is a felony or is a misdemeanor punishable by more than two years in prison.
- Is a fugitive
- Is known to be addicted to controlled substances (this requires that the individual has “lost the power of self-control concerning the use of the controlled substance” and is sometimes inferred from numerous recent drug convictions)
- Has been found by a court or other lawful authority to be a threat to themselves or others; or who has been involuntarily committed for drug/alcohol abuse or mental health issues.
- Has been convicted of certain offenses or is subject to a court order related to domestic violence or a severe mental condition.
- Is in the U.S. illegally
- Was dishonorably discharged from U.S. Military Service.
Like the age requirement, each state also can be more strict than federal law regarding who can possess a gun based on their background.
What Are the Location Restrictions on Gun Possession?
There are some locations where gun possession is restricted, even by someone who can lawfully possess a gun elsewhere. Again, there is federal law and state law, giving the states the ability to be more strict.
Federal law forbids gun possession at:
- Federal facilities
- Post offices
- Airports and on airplanes (except when the weapon is unloaded, is in a checked bag, and the airline was made aware of the weapon)
- School Zones, K-12 (except someone having a state-issued concealed-carry permit)
Open Carry Rule
Arizona is an “open carry” state, which means that anyone can lawfully 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 car (still must be holstered, regardless)
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 particular permits are needed. You CANNOT, however, unholster that weapon without an excellent 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, unlike most states, the cases do not have to be locked, nor even capable of locking.
Concealed Carry Permits
Known as “CCWs,” concealed carry permits authorize anyone to carry a weapon on their person out of sight. It used to be illegal to have concealed weapons without a license. After July 29, 2010, the Arizona Constitutional Carry Law amended the rules so that individuals in Arizona can lawfully carry a concealed weapon without a permit.
Nevertheless, Arizona still issues CCW permits so that Arizona citizens who wish to carry concealed weapons in other states can comply with the regulations of those states. CCW permit holders can also be within 1000 feet of a school zone while carrying a weapon, complying with federal law. In addition, CCW permit holders do not have to undergo an extra background check when buying a new firearm.
CCWs are available to anyone who meets the state of Arizona’s criteria:
- Be at least 21 or 19 years of age with evidence of military service or honorable discharge.
- If you have a felony conviction, it must be expunged before the right to possess firearms is restored.
- Be in the country lawfully (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.
Arizona has approved the following firearm courses to obtain a concealed weapons permit. You only need to satisfy 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
- Evidence of current military service
Even in Arizona, there are some areas where no guns are authorized, permit or not. All firearms are prohibited in the following places:
- Establishments that serve alcohol and prohibit 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 forfeit your arms (must provide on-site storage if such a request is made)
- The grounds of all public schools, state universities, or community universities (unless otherwise permitted by law)
- Polling places (on election day only)
- Correctional facilities (including parking lots)
I Have a Permit From Another State, Will It be Recognized?
If you are just a temporary visitor, Arizona will very likely recognize your gun permit (unless you are from one of the handfuls of states that declines 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 long as you are there only temporarily. However, as mentioned earlier, other states’ laws vary dramatically on gun possession rules, especially concealed guns.
Thus, you must 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 or a jail sentence.
Must I Inform Police of My Weapon? Do I Need a Lawyer?
Strictly as a matter of law, no, you are not required to disclose that you are armed to anyone, even police unless they directly ask you. Nevertheless, common sense may dictate otherwise, and most gun enthusiasts would suggest you immediately alert the officer to your weapon to stop any dangerous misunderstandings.
Should a misunderstanding occur, you might need the services of a qualified Arizona lawyer to assist you – use LegalMatch to help you locate the nearest Arizona criminal defense lawyer.