Restoring gun rights in Arizona requires applying to the court where the conviction occurred: People convicted of non-serious felonies can apply for a set aside after the case ends or for a restoration of firearms rights two years after the case ends. But for people convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence, a set aside is required to regain gun rights.
Meanwhile, people convicted of a serious offense can apply for a restoration of firearms rights ten years after the case ends. And people convicted of a dangerous offense or federal offense usually lose their gun rights permanently unless they get a pardon.
In this article, our Arizona criminal defense attorneys answer:
- 1. When am I eligible to restore my gun rights in Arizona?
- 2. What is the process of restoring my gun rights?
- 3. What if I possess a gun without restoring my gun rights?
1. When am I eligible to restore my gun rights in Arizona?
People convicted of non-serious felonies in Arizona can petition the court for a set aside right after their case ends. (A case ends when any incarceration or probation is over.) If granted, the set aside automatically restores gun rights.1 People who – for whatever reason – do not get a set aside can instead apply for a firearms rights restoration with the court, but they would need to wait two years after their criminal case ends to apply.2
Note that people convicted of misdemeanor-level domestic violence do not have a choice between getting a set aside and applying for a firearms rights restoration. They must get a set aside in order to regain their gun rights. And they can apply for a set aside right after the case ends.3
Meanwhile, people convicted in Arizona of serious offenses cannot get their firearms rights restored through a set aside. Instead, they must wait ten years after the case ends to apply for a firearms rights restoration with the court. Examples of serious offenses include:
- 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 trafficking4
Finally, people convicted in Arizona of a dangerous offense are not eligible for a set aside or for a firearm rights restoration. Dangerous offenses are felonies that involve either:
- 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.5
And while people convicted of a federal felony may be able to get their Arizona gun rights restored, they usually can never get their federal gun rights restored. So for all intents and purposes, people with federal felony convictions lose their gun rights permanently as well.6
The following chart summarizes how and when people may pursue a restoration of their gun rights in Arizona.
Conviction in Arizona
How and when to restore gun rights
|Non-violent felony||Set aside application: Any time after the criminal case ends; and/or |
Firearm rights restoration application: 2 years after the criminal case ends
|Serious offense||Firearm rights restoration application: 10 years after the criminal case ends|
|Dangerous offense||Permanent loss of gun rights|
|Misdemeanor domestic violence (in some cases)||Set aside application: Any time after the criminal case ends.|
|Federal offense||Permanent loss of gun rights under federal law|
Note that anyone convicted of an Arizona crime may apply for an Arizona Governor’s Pardon in a last-ditch effort to restore their gun rights. And anyone convicted of a federal crime can apply for a federal Presidential Pardon once five years have elapsed since the case ends in an effort to regain gun rights. But pardons are very sparingly granted.
2. What is the process of restoring my gun rights?
Arizona gun law provides two possible avenues for restoring a person’s gun rights:
- A “set aside” application; and/or
- A firearms rights restoration application
As discussed above, people can also pursue pardons if they have no other way to restore their gun rights. Once gun rights are restored, people may possess and purchase firearms.
2.1. A “set aside” application
The application to set aside a prior conviction must be filed in the court where the past conviction(s) occurred. People typically use the Arizona Judicial Branch’s template form to apply for a set aside.
People may apply for a set aside as soon as their criminal case ends. The set aside process takes about three to four months. The court cannot charge a filing fee.
Set asides can restore gun rights for people convicted of non-serious felonies and misdemeanor domestic violence. Set asides cannot restore gun rights for people convicted of serious felonies. And people are always ineligible for a set aside if they were convicted of either a dangerous offense, a felony against a child 14-year-old or younger, or any crime that included a finding of sexual motivation or that requires sex offender registration.7
2.2. A firearms rights restoration
A firearms rights restoration application must be filed with the court where the past conviction(s) occurred. Many people use the Arizona Judicial Branch’s template form to apply for a restoration of gun rights. Alternatively, people can create their own custom motion.
The benefit of using template forms is that they are easier. But creating a custom motion gives the person an opportunity to add important information that the template forms may not allow for.
The firearms rights restoration process takes about five months. The court can charge a filing fee.
People convicted of non-serious offenses in Arizona may apply for a firearms rights restoration two years after the case ends. People convicted of a serious offense must wait ten years after the case ends. And people convicted of dangerous offenses are ineligible for a firearms right restoration.8
3. What if I possess a gun without restoring my rights?
It is both an Arizona state crime and federal crime for people who lost their gun rights to then have a gun.
Arizona law makes it a class 4 felony for a prohibited possessor to have a gun. Penalties typically include one year to two-and-a-half years in Arizona State Prison. In addition, the court may impose up to $150,000 in fines. But the punishment may be steeper if the defendant has a prior criminal record.9
Meanwhile, federal law also makes it a felony for a prohibited possessor to have a gun. Penalties include up to 10 years in Federal Prison and/or a fine.10
See our related article on obtaining a CCW permit in Arizona.
- Arizona Revised Statute 13-905; State v. Nixon, (Ariz. Ct. App. 2017) 242 Ariz. 242, 394 P.3d 667, 762 Ariz. Adv. Rep. 8.
- ARS 13-910.
- 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(33)(B)(ii); U.S. v. Handcock (9th Cir. 2000) 231 F.3d 557.
- ARS 13-706.
- ARS 13-704.
- 18 USC § 922(g).
- ARS 13-905
- ARS 13-910.
- ARS 13-3102.
- 18 USC § 922(g) & (n).