Knowing where one can legally carry a firearm in Arizona can be confusing, as there are different rules for certain classifications of people depending on the licenses they carry and locations where they are carrying.
Arizona is an open-carry state, meaning firearm owners at least 18 years or older are permitted to carry their guns when not concealed. This differs from states without open-carry laws that require the carrier to acquire a CCW, carrying a concealed weapon permit. In Arizona, one must be at least 21 years old to acquire a concealed carry permit.
While it is not news to most that Arizona is an open-carry state, as of 2010 firearm owners at least 21 years or older have been permitted via Constitutional carry to conceal their weapons without a permit.
“For open-carry, you are pretty much looking at elections, so voting sites, bars if you intend to drink and courts,” said Lt. Tim Sonier of the Mohave County Sheriff’s Department.
While sometimes it is up to the establishment owner as to whether or not licensed or unlicensed individuals can carry firearms onto the premises, there are certain locations where carrying a firearm is almost always a bad idea.
According to Arizona Revised Statute 13-3102, those locations generally include inside schools, nuclear or hydroelectric generating stations, polling stations on Election Day and correctional facilities. According to the same statute, firearms are allowed on school property, like parking lots, if the weapon is unloaded. If exiting a vehicle, the firearm must remain unloaded and locked in the vehicle out of sight. However, firearms are prohibited on correction facility property even in the parking lot. There are exceptions to the above regulations which can be found by going to https://www.azleg.gov/arstitle/.
Those holding concealed-carry licenses must adhere to the same restrictions and regulations as those carrying without a permit. However, there are a few exceptions such as being permitted to go into the bar with your concealed-carry license. Though, while you can enter the establishment, you cannot consume alcohol without it being considered a misdemeanor.
“Basically, if you have a firearm you cannot be served liquor,” Sonier said.
Bars, restaurants and retailers also have the right to designate their establishments as gun-free zones. According to ARS 4-299, if caught carrying a firearm in one of these zones, the individual can get trespassed from the property.
However, these signs have to be posted or the message relayed in a clear manner. Signs must be posted or the message relayed in a fashion that gives reasonable notice to the firearm holder, according to ARS 4-299. If a sign is not posted, and the owner of the business informs someone carrying a weapon of a no-gun policy, that constitutes reasonable notice.
“It comes down to whether or not you have been asked to leave, if you refuse to leave or if you refuse to give up your firearm so (the owner) can secure it properly,” Sonier said. “Typically, it is a class 1 misdemeanor.”
Sonier said most of the violations mentioned above don’t happen frequently in Mohave County, and that there are not frequent issues with lawful carry.
“Typically the majority of our weapons violations are prohibited possessor,” he said. “We get very few complaints, at least historically, in regards to people carrying firearms.”
According to ARS 13-3101(7), “prohibited possessor” refers to someone found to be a danger to themselves and others, and those convicted of a felony or on probation. The list goes on, and can be found in full by visiting https://www.azleg.gov/arstitle/.
While Arizona has some of the more lax gun laws in the country, Sonier recommends that those carrying firearms learn the proper way to handle the weapon.
“Everyone who carries one (firearm) should seek out and take training,” he said. “They should be proficient with it.”
For a full list of Arizona gun-related statutes, go to https://www.azleg.gov/arstitle/.