Arizona gun laws do not require registration of firearms or CCW permits to carry concealed. And background checks are mandatory only for commercial gun sales, not private sales. It is a felony for prohibited possessors such as convicted felons to possess a gun. But it may be possible to regain gun rights through a set aside, a restoration of firearm rights, or a pardon.
In this article, our Arizona criminal defense attorneys answer:
- 1. Am I allowed to have a gun in Arizona?
- 2. Do I need a background check to buy a gun?
- 3. Can I carry concealed without a permit?
- 4. Can I carry guns in my car?
- 5. What guns are illegal?
- 6. Where are guns prohibited in Arizona?
- 7. Do I have to tell police that I have a gun?
- 8. What are the penalties for unlawfully having a gun?
- 9. How do I restore my gun rights?
- 10. What are the latest ghost gun laws?
1. Am I allowed to have a gun in Arizona?
In general, people 18 and older may possess, carry, own, or buy a firearm in Arizona as long as they are not a prohibited possessor. But 21 is the minimum age to purchase a handgun from a licensed dealer.1
Prohibited possessors in Arizona include:
- People convicted of a felony, any crime potentially carrying a prison term of more than one year, or misdemeanor domestic violence
- People adjudicated delinquent of a felony
- People facing charges for a crime potentially carrying a prison term of more than one year
- People found incompetent to stand trial, and who have not since been found competent
- People currently serving time in a correctional facility or detention facility
- People currently on probation for a felony or domestic violence
- People on parole, community supervision, work furlough, or home arrest
- People serving probation or parole pursuant to an interstate compact
- People found to constitute a danger to themselves or others or to be “persistently or acutely disabled or gravely disabled” in a court order under ARS 36-540
- People found guilty except insane
- Subjects of a restraining order for harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner (or his/her child)
- Drug users or addicts
- People adjudicated as mental defectives or who have been committed to a mental institution
- Dishonorably discharged veterans
- Undocumented aliens
- People who renounced their U.S. citizenship
- Nonimmigrant aliens with a foreign residence, except for those with a valid U.S. hunting license or permit, participants in an approved competitive target shooting event or firearms display event, people with a wavier for the U.S. Attorney General, certain diplomats, or foreign officials or distinguished visitors designated by the U.S. State Department2
Juveniles (under 18) may possess guns in the following circumstances:
- In a private home
- On property owned or leased by their parent, grandparents, or legal guardians
- With a parent, grandparent, a legal guardian
- With a certified hunter or firearms safety instructor with the consent of the child’s parent or guardian
- After the juvenile has been emancipated
And children 14 and older may possess a gun during certain lawful hunting, shooting, marksmanship, or farming activities.3
2. Do I need a background check to buy a gun?
Background checks are required to purchase firearms from a licensed commercial seller in Arizona.4 But background checks are not required for private sales.5
Note that Arizona and its political subdivisions do not require that guns be registered.6
3. Can I carry concealed without a permit?
Yes, Arizona does not require CCW permits for people to carry concealed handguns.7 However, many people choose to get an Arizona CCW permit because it helps streamline the process of buying a gun. A CCW permit may be necessary to carry concealed in other states. And certain localities may prohibit concealed carry at public establishments and public events without a CCW permit.
A shall issue state, Arizona has reciprocity with the following other states:
- Alaska – permitless carry if at least 21 years old
- Arkansas – permitless carry if at least 18 years old
- Colorado – only resident permits
- Florida – only resident permits
- Idaho – permitless carry if at least 18 years old
- Kansas – permitless carry if at least 21 years old
- Kentucky – permitless carry if at least 21 years old
- Maine – only resident permits, and at least 21 years old
- Michigan – only resident permits
- Mississippi – permitless carry if at least 18 years old
- Missouri – permitless carry if at least 18 years old
- Nebraska – only resident permits, and at least 21 years old
- New Hampshire – permitless carry if at least 18 years old
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Oklahoma – permitless carry if at least 21 years old, but government-issued ID required
- Pennsylvania – only resident permits
- South Carolina – only resident permits
- South Dakota – permitless carry if at least 18 years old
- Vermont – permitless carry if at least 18 years old
- West Virginia – permitless carry if at least 21 years old
- Puerto Rico
In order to be eligible for a concealed weapons permit, the applicant must complete a firearms training class, get fingerprinted, pay a fee, and submit an application.
Note that Arizona offers CCW permits to both Arizona residents and non-residents.8
4. Can I carry guns in my car?
People 21 and older who are otherwise allowed to have guns may open carry or conceal carry firearms in a vehicle (“means of transportation”).
For people 18 to 20, the carry laws are different. It is unlawful to carry a concealed firearm within the immediate control of anybody in the car. Concealed firearms must be transported in a case, holster, scabbard, storage compartment, trunk, pack, luggage, or glove compartment. And openly carried firearms must be in plain view from outside of the automobile.
If a person is on school grounds, any firearm in the car must be unloaded. And if the person leaves the vehicle, the firearm also needs to be secured and out of plain view.9
5. What guns are illegal?
The few firearms that Arizona law prohibits include (but are not limited to):
- Guns that shoot more than one shot automatically by a single trigger press without manual reloading;
- Rifles with a barrel length of less than 16 inches;
- Shotguns with a barrel length of less than 18 inches
It is also illegal to have silencers.10 And federal law bans bump stocks.11
6. Where are guns prohibited in Arizona?
Arizona law prohibits both the open and concealed carry of firearms in certain locations. With some exceptions, these prohibited locations include (but are not limited to):
- Airports past the security checkpoint
- Polling places on election day
- Jails, prisons, and juvenile halls
- Hydroelectric or nuclear power generating stations
- K-12 schools and grounds
- Public colleges or universities where the governing board prohibited guns
- Private establishments or private property where the owner – or someone with lawful control over the premises – gives reasonable notice that gun are forbidden
- Federal buildings
Carrying a gun in a prohibited place can be a misdemeanor or a felony offense depending on the location. It does not matter if the person is carrying the gun for self-defense.12
7. Do I have to tell police that I have a gun?
People who are carrying concealed have no duty to inform law enforcement officers that they have a gun unless the officer asks. And during investigations such as traffic stops, peace officers may take temporary custody of the gun to ensure officer safety.13
8. What are the penalties for unlawfully having a gun?
It is a class 4 felony in Arizona for prohibited possessors to have a gun unless their civil right to have a gun was restored. The punishment is one year to two-and-a-half years in Arizona State Prison and up to $150,000 in fines. But the sentence may be harsher if the defendant has a prior criminal record.14
9. How do I restore my gun rights?
It depends on the person’s particular case. People with non-serious felony convictions can petition the court for a set aside as soon as their case ends. (A case is over after any incarceration or probation has been served.) Set asides for non-serious convictions automatically restore gun rights.
Otherwise, people with non-serious felony convictions can apply for a firearms rights restoration with the court, but the wait to apply is two years after their case ends.2 Note that people convicted of misdemeanor-level domestic violence are required to get a set aside to restore their gun rights.
- first-degree murder,
- second-degree murder,
- an aggravated assault that amounts to a dangerous offense,
- sexual assault,
- a dangerous crime against children,
- arson of an occupied structure,
- armed robbery,
- first-degree burglary,
- sexual conduct with a child under 15 years of age, and
- child sex trafficking
Note that people convicted of a dangerous offense are not eligible for a set aside or for a firearm rights restoration. Dangerous offenses are felony crimes that involve:
- the use, discharge, or threatening display of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument, or
- the intentional or knowing infliction of serious physical injury on someone else.
And people with federal felony convictions typically can never get their federal gun rights back.15
10. What are the latest ghost gun laws?
It is currently legal in Arizona to possess ghost guns, which are guns made out of various parts and without a serial number. The Biden Administration has indicated that it is trying to curb ghost guns. It is possible that federal law may soon require background checks to purchase ghost guns or that separate gun parts contain serial numbers.16
In response on April 6, 2021, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed House Bill 2111 to make Arizona a “Second Amendment sanctuary.” HB2111 prevents Arizona state and local law enforcement agencies from enforcing federal gun control laws inconsistent with state laws. So if federal measures restricting ghost guns go into effect, Arizona police officers will not be enforcing them. Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone opposed the bill.17
- Arizona Revised Statute 13-3101.
- ARS 13-3101.
- ARS 13-3111.
- 18 U.S.C. 922(t); 27 CFR 478.102; ARS 44-1382.
- ARS 44-1382.
- ARS 13-3108 subsection B.
- Arizona Senate Bill 1108 (2010) (“Constitutional Carry Law”); ARS 13-3112.
- Concealed Weapons and Permits, Arizona Department of Public Safety (azdps.gov); ARS 13-3112.
- ARS 13-3102. But if HB2840 (2021) passes, loaded firearms will be allowed on school grounds.
- ARS 13-3101.
- 27 CFR Parts 447, 478, & 479
- ARS 13-3102; ARS 13-3119; ARS 4-244; ARS 31-129; ARS 31-2911; ARS 13-2505; ARS 13-2514.
- ARS 13-3102.
- ARS 13-3102; see also State v. Holmes, (Ariz. Ct. App. Dec. 3, 2020); see also State v. Gutierrez, (Ariz. Ct. App. 2016) 240 Ariz. 460, 381 P.3d 254, 746 Ariz. Adv. Rep. 14.
- ARS 13-905; ARS 13-910; ARS 13-706; ARS 13-704; 18 USC § 922; 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(33)(B)(ii).
- Lauren Egan and Shannon Pettypiece, Biden targets ‘ghost guns’ and ‘red flag’ laws in new gun control measures, NBC News (April 8, 2021).
- Jarod MacDonald-Evoy, Ducey signs ‘Second Amendment sanctuary’ bill, AZ Mirror (April 6, 2021); Ali Swenson, Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Affirms Gun Rights in Controversial Vote, Phoenix New Times (February 26, 2021).