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Minimum Age to Purchase Ammo in Arizona

February 17, 2009 Federal Firearms Laws, Firearms Safety, Legal Issues Comments Off

Question:  How old do you have to be to buy ammunition in Arizona?

Answer: The answer depends on the kind of ammunition you wish to purchase.  To purchase handgun ammunition from a federally licensed firearms dealer, you must be 21 years old.  Unlicensed person (private sellers) cannot sell handgun ammunition to anyone under the age of 18.  For rifle and shotgun ammunition, there is no federal law that provides for a minimum age to purchase.  Arizona has a law prohibiting the transfer of ammunition to anyone under the age of 18 without the written consent of their parent or legal guardian.

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Carrying a Concealed Firearm into a Gun Store – Legal or Not?

February 16, 2009 AZ CCW Laws, Firearms Safety, Legal Issues Comments Off

Question:  I have recently taken the AZ CCW course and am currently waiting for my permit from DPS.  My question is that every gun store I have entered has signs stating “unload firearm here” just outside.  Does this apply to a legally concealed weapon also?

Answer: Gun stores are considered to be private property, just like any other business establishment.  You probably recall from your AZ CCW course, that any private property owner can prohibit firearms from their private property by placing a sign at the entrance to their business and that concealed carry permit holders must honor those signs.  While a firearms prohibition makes no sense at all for gun stores, they are perfectly within their rights to require that you unload your firearm before bringing into their store.  Most of the time this is for safety reasons.  They have no way of knowing whether the person bringing the firearm into the store has any knowledge of safe gun handling or firearms safety.  To protect their customers and employees, most gun stores require that you unload and often case your gun before bringing it into the store.  This would also apply to any concealed firearm that you have in your possession, unless there is a specific exclusion on the signage.

If you have a question, my suggestion would be to ask the store manager or a store employee what their policy on concealed carry of a firearm in their store might be.

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Handling Guns on Display at Gun Shows…

December 2, 2008 Firearms Safety, Kids and Guns Comments Off

Question:  My two younger boys who are well versed in the rules of gun safety watch people handle guns at gun shows and shops.  After many gun shows, my younger one once again touched a tethered gun that I pointed out to him.  This time the vendor yelled at him, but said that as an adult, I could touch.  Was this his choice or a rule/law that we have never been called on?

Answer:  Sorry to hear about your bad experience at the gun show.  In my experience, sometimes the vendors there can be a little ‘rough around the edges’.

In terms of the law, it is not legal for anyone under the age of eighteen years to possess a handgun.  This specifically refers to the gun being owned by them or under their exclusive control.  It would not generally refer to a tethered gun at a gun store or gun show.

Most vendors do not want children handling the guns for a combination of safety, liability and product preservation issues.  Unfortunately, many kids DO NOT understand safe gun handling and don’t differentiate between a firearm and a toy.  You’ll find that in most gun stores, the sales people won’t even get the handgun out of the case for anyone under 21 since they can’t legally sell them a handgun.  The mindset is ‘why waste my time’.  I would suggest that the same kind of mindset is probably at work at the gun shows as well.

I suspect the vendor in question could have handled this situation a little better and made it a more positive experience for your son.  Make sure that he understands that it is more about the mindset of the seller vs. anything he did…

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Visiting Arizona from California…Can I bring my handgun?

Question:  I am going to Sedona, Arizona for a week and I want to know if I can bring my Glock 22 handgun with me and whether or not there are any restrictions for CA residents to transport it?

Answer:  When traveling with a handgun from California to Arizona, the most restricting part of your journey will be from the time you leave home until you reach the Arizona border.  In California, to legally transport a handgun, it must be unloaded and locked in a gun case or in the trunk of your vehicle.  Ammunition needs to be stored separately from the firearm.

Once you arrive in Arizona, there are very few restrictions.  First, Arizona is an ‘open carry’ state.  That means it is legal for you to openly carry a firearm in any location where it is legal for you to have a firearm.  In terms of vehicle carry, you can have a loaded handgun anywhere in your vehicle as long as it is not concealed.  Should you wish to conceal your firearm, but still have it accessible for your immediate use, you would need an Arizona Concealed Weapons permit.

To have legally have your firearm concealed in your vehicle if you are not in possession of an Arizona CCW, you need to insure that your firearm is ‘two steps removed from immediate access’.  For most people, this is accomplished by having the gun in a case and then placing the case in the glove box, console or trunk of the car.  The law wants you to have to do at least two things to gain access to the firearm.  By the way, putting the gun in a case or holster and then placing the holster under the car seat is only considered to be one step…so I don’t recommend that as a course of action unless you are a CCW permit holder.

Other than that, you should probably be familiar with Arizona laws on where you cannot carry a firearm.  You can read another post I wrote on the subject  by checking out the link below:


Overall, the laws here in Arizona are far more gun-friendly that those in California.  If you plan to visit Arizona often, you might want to consider investing a day and getting your Arizona CCW permit.  Any legal US resident can get a permit if they take the class, pass the written test and shooting qualifier and submit to a criminal background check.  The course is 8 hours long and the permit is good for five years.  Something to think about anyway…

Enjoy your visit to our beautiful state…

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Concealed Weapons and Passengers in Vehicles

November 3, 2008 AZ CCW Laws, Firearms Safety, Legal Issues Comments Off

Question:  I have a CCW and carry a loaded pistol under my seat. If I am carrying a passenger (who has no CCW) and I have to leave the car momentarily, would my passenger be potentially charged with possession of a concealed weapon?

Answer:  Yes, under the circumstances you describe, a passenger in your vehicle that has immediate and unrestricted access to a concealed firearm in the vehicle could be charged with possession of a concealed weapon.

My advice would be to have some way of securing the firearm if you need to leave the vehicle.  I have a locking box in my own vehicle for this purpose since I might leave my daughter in the car while I run into a store.  I also encouraged my wife to get her CCW to prevent situations exactly like this from happening.

In addition, as a CCW permit holder, it is your responsibility to insure that unauthorized persons do not have access to your firearm.  Should this person gain access to your firearm and use it to harm themselves or someone else, you could also leave yourself open to charges of criminal negligence or in the event someone is killed, you could even be charged with manslaughter.

My advice is that if you can’t take your firearm with you when you leave your vehicle, lock it up.  Better safe than sorry…

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Safety Ammo for Apartments or Multi-Family Dwellings

A questioner writes:  “I recently purchased a 9mm Kahr PM9 for concealed carry and home defense. I live in an apartment and would like to get ammunition that will not put others in the complex in danger. I am looking at Mag-Safe but have read mixed reviews about the functioning in autos. Thank you for your time.”

This was a great question.  It is an excellent issue to consider if you live in a multi-family dwelling or apartment complex.  The questioner was being a very responsible person to be making sure that they minimized the opportunity for ‘collateral damage’ should they have to use a handgun for personal defense at home.

Mag-Safe and other frangible rounds will essentially break up on contact with any hard surface.  The Mag-Safe rounds in particular have a pellet core in the 9mm configuration and will not penetrate sheet-rock.  Most other frangible rounds have an epoxy core and again will not penetrate any hard surface that you might fire at.

Glaser Safety Slugs are another variety of ammo that is designed to avoid over penetration.  Glaser uses a jacketed round that contains a tightly packed lead shot projectile.  Again, the issue here is that in many cases the projectile does not achieve enough penetration to do significant damage to your intended target.  Thus, the lack of stopping power tends to defeat the purpose of using a gun against your bad guy.

There are a couple of versions of Glaser rounds that supposedly have different penetration characteristics.  The ‘blue’ version is supposed to penetrate a soft target 5-7 inches where the ‘silver’ version is supposedly good for between 8-10 inches of penetration.  These tests are done using ‘ballistic gelatin’.  Last time I checked, ballistic gelatin does not wear heavy clothing or hide behind walls, doors, furniture or other objects, so I would take these penetration numbers with a grain of salt.

There is a potential for reliability issues with this type of ammo when used in a semi-automatic pistol.  It is generally not a ‘feed’ issue but a ‘cycle’ issue.  Many of these rounds are not powerful enough to reliably cycle a semi-automatic pistol.   I have used frangible ammo extensively during training exercises in shoot houses and in my personal experience, this has been an issue for certain weapons and calibers.

I would suggest a couple of things right off the bat.  First, if you do use something like Mag-Safe or any other ‘frangible’ ammo, I’d strongly suggest that you do not use it for concealed carry when you are ‘out in the world’.

Using frangible or pre-fragmented ammo is great if you are concerned about penetration in your home, but lousy if you need to shoot through a hollow core door, heavy concealment, a car door or something else that your bad guy is hiding behind.

The Federal Air Marshals did some testing with frangible ammo a few years back.  It is instructive that they now all carry standard hollow point defensive ammo and do not carry frangible ammunition.

If you are really concerned about over-penetration at home, I’d probably suggest having two different magazines.  Load one with a frangible round and put that one in the gun when at home.  Load the other one with a high quality defensive round and use that one when ‘out in the world’.

One last thing to consider…if you are shooting a high quality defensive round and hit your intended target, you should not have to worry about over-penetration putting your neighbors at risk.  It is only an issue if you ‘miss’.  With good marksmanship and situational awareness, you may not really need the frangible ammo at all…

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What is the best home defense shotgun for women?


Hi, I will be purchasing a shotgun soon for home defense and would like to ask a few questions as to what is best for me. I am female and am looking for a lightweight shotgun since having tried a Remington 870 in the range, I was tired after just a few rounds. I have come up with 3 models after some research:

Mossberg 505 Youth #57110 20ga. 4+1 capacity, 5 1/4 lbs.

Mossberg 500 Super Bantam #54210 20ga, 5+1 cap, 5 1/4 lbs.

Remington 1100 20 gauge youth stock (Remington LT-20)

I was wondering if you’re familiar w/ these youth shotguns and if so, which one would you get? There also is a Mossberg shotgun weighing 6 1/2 lbs. I’ve heard that lighter ones have more recoil, is this true with shotguns? If so, should I go with the 6 1/2 lbs.? Again, I want a lightweight shotgun with light recoil, if such a thing exists. Thanks.


Thanks for your question. In my experience in teaching shotgun classes, many women have trouble with the considerable recoil of a 12 gauge shotgun. Sounds like your experience was consistent with this. I routinely recommend a 20 gauge shotgun for women or young teens as the recoil is considerably less.

As far as the weight is concerned, I don’t think a little over a pound difference in weight is going to be a big deal one way or the other. Some may say differently, but in my experience there is not a major difference.

The big difference in the youth model vs. the standard Mossberg 500 in 20 gauge is going to be the length of the stock, the reach to the trigger and the reach to the pump action. The youth models are engineered with a shorter reach to accommodate smaller bodies with shorter arms and fingers. If you are a person with a small build, then that might be just the ticket for you. If you have a more normal build, with a height of 5′ 7″ or taller, you might want to go with the standard model.

Here’s what you can do to determine if it fits you or not. Place the butt of the stock firmly in your shoulder, with your shooting hand holding the gun around the pistol grip area of the stock. You should be able to reach the trigger comfortably without stretching. With your non-shooting hand on the fore-end pump, your elbow should be bent at about 90 degrees. Again, you should not feel like you are reaching or stretching to hold the fore-end.

If you are using it strictly for personal defense, a 20″ or 22″ in barrel is what you should look for. If you are going to use it for defense and sporting purposes (hunting or clay target shooting) you should go with a 24″ barrel.

As far as ammo is concerned, look for reduced recoil ammunition. It is available in most gun stores or sporting outlets that cater to hunters. It will reduce the amount of felt recoil considerably. You should look for .00 buckshot (double ought buckshot). Bear in mind that if you shoot that load inside your house, it will penetrate drywall and hollow core doors easily. It will not penetrate cinder block or brick.

As far as the brand of shotgun is concerned, either the Remington or Mossberg would be a good choice. They are both high quality firearms. My personal preference is for the Mossberg as I have owned one for years and have had zero problems with it. It is also very easy to find parts and accessories for the Mossberg.

Once you purchase your gun, you should take it out and test what the pattern of the shot looks like at several distances. I would recommend that you test it a 5 yds, 10 yds, and 20 yds. Use a fresh target or piece of cardboard each time. You will need a target or a piece of cardboard at least 24″ x 36′. The purpose of patterning your shotgun is to see how much the buckshot spreads out as the distance increases. This will make it more apparent to you how critical the aiming process needs to be with your particular gun. Each shotgun is different, so that is why I recommend that you do it for your particular gun.



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Carrying a handgun in a vehicle when the driver has a valid Arizona CCW Permit

April 20, 2008 AZ CCW Laws, Firearms Safety, Legal Issues, Vehicle Carry Comments Off

Recently I received this question regarding vehicle carry from an Arizona CCW permit holder.

Question:  I have an AZ CCW.  I have two questions on handguns I was hoping you could help answer:

  1. Can I keep the gun in my truck’s armrest storage space with or without a holster?  Can it be loaded?
  2. Can I keep the gun wedged between the driver seat and middle seat with or without a holster?  Can it be loaded?

Answer:  The short answer is “yes” to all of your questions.  As an AZ CCW permit holder, you are not subject to the ‘two steps removed from immediate access’ test that non-permit holders must meet for having a firearm concealed in their vehicle. 

You can keep your loaded firearm in the truck’s armrest storage compartment.  It does not need to be in a holster, although I would suggest that you secure it somehow so it doesn’t bounce around in there with the trigger exposed.  From a safety point of view it makes me a little nervous to have un-holstered handgun bouncing around loose.  You never know when something might lodge in the trigger well and potentially cause an accidental discharge.

As far as keeping the gun wedged between the driver seat and middle seat, you can go with or without a holster.  The trigger will be much better protected when it is wedged between the seats, so I am less concerned from a safety perspective.

You mentioned having your gun unloaded.  Personally, I keep my firearms loaded at all times when I carry them.  The only time they are unloaded is when they are locked in the safe.  If you need your handgun, you will REALLY need it and you probably won’t have the time to load it…so, I’d make sure that if you carry for personal defense, have your gun loaded.  If you have a pistol with a hammer, make sure it is down.  If you have one with a safety, make sure it is on.

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Proper signage to notify people entering a building that "No firearms or other weapons are allowed on the premises"

April 14, 2008 Firearms Safety, Legal Issues Comments Off

There is no specific regulation for signage in Arizona regarding how one might prohibit a person from bringing firearms into a business, hospital or similar. 

Most of the signs say something like “No weapons are permitted on these premises” or “Carrying of any firearm, knife or other weapon of any type is prohibited on these premises”.  

You might add to the bottom of the sign that anyone violating this policy will be prosecuted under ARS 13-3102 – Misconduct with firearms and/or ARS 13-1503 – Criminal Trespass in a Non-Residential Structure if you want to add some additional ‘fear factor’.

That is generally sufficient notice under Arizona law that anyone, concealed carry permit holders included, cannot legally bring a weapon onto the premises.  

The sign needs to be large enough that the casual observer can see it upon approaching the entrance and needs to be prominently placed.  I would recommend near eye-level on the entrance door itself.

For the record, based on my experience and that of most law enforcement officers I know, this signage will only keep otherwise law-abiding citizens from bringing their weapons on the premises.  Anyone who is intent on criminal acts, violence or who is in possession of a firearm illegally or who has criminal intent will simply ignore the sign.

Then, only the bad guys will be armed inside the building.

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Is there any written material that I can use to study for my CCW exam?

April 14, 2008 AZ CCW Laws, Firearms Safety, Firearms Training Comments Off

There is not an official study guide for the Arizona CCW written exam.  Most of the time, studying in advance is really not necessary.  If you have a good instructor, they will teach you everything you need to know in the class.  If you are really interested in getting more detailed information about the material covered in the CCW curriculum, there is an excellent book available called “The Arizona Gun Owner’s Guide” by Alan Korwin.  Alan is a nationally recognized authority on firearms law.  His book covers a great deal of information on the legal aspects of owning or using a firearm in Arizona.  If you are looking for Marksmanship and Gun Handling information, “The Modern Technique of the Pistol” by Gregory Morrison and Jeff Cooper is an excellent survey of the skills necessary to become an effective pistol marksman.  Jeff Cooper is internationally renowned as the “Father of the Modern Technique of the Pistol”.  The NRA Basic Pistol text is also an excellent survey of handgun skills.

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