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What is the "Castle Doctrine" and does it apply in Arizona?

January 19, 2010 Castle Doctrine, State Firearms Laws, Use of Force Issues Comments Off

Question:  What is the “Castle Doctrine” and does it apply in Arizona?

Answer: The “Castle Doctrine” or “Defense of Habitation” laws are a legal concept that derive from English Common Law.  Under this concept, one’s place of residence is considered to be a place where a person is protected against illegal trespass and violent attack.  In most states, it provides for the legal right to use deadly force to defend one’s home and any innocent persons inside the home.  It also provides that this same deadly force can be used to defend against an illegal intrusion into the home that may lead to a violent attack.

In Arizona, we do have a “Castle Doctrine”.  It applies to a person’s residence or workplace, which may be either permanent or temporary.  The doctrine would apply not only to your permanent home, but would also apply to a hotel room that you might be temporarily treating as “home”.  In Arizona, the doctrine extends to your vehicle as well, if an attempt is being made to remove you from your vehicle by force.

Some have referred to this doctrine as the “Make My Day Law”.  This reference comes from the 1983 movie “Sudden Impact” and was part of a challenge delivered to a criminal about to be apprehended by Detective Harry Callahan, a character in the movie played by Clint Eastwood.

In general, the following conditions must apply if the Castle Doctrine is to be used in claiming justifiable homicide:

  • The intruder must be attempting to or have made unlawful and forcible entry into an occupied home, business or vehicle.
  • The occupants must have a reasonable belief that the intruder is entering with the intention of committing a felony crime such as burglary.
  • The occupants must have a reasonable belief that they are in danger of serious injury or death at the hands of the intruder.
  • The occupants must be innocent of any provocation and cannot have instigated the intrusion or initiated the event by a threat of deadly force.

Some states have stronger laws supporting a Castle Doctrine, while others have weaker ones.  Arizona has a strong Castle Law and follows the conditions above in applying their law.  Additionally, in Arizona, a person is legally able to “stand their ground” in the face of an attack and is under no obligation to retreat prior to using deadly force in self defense.

Currently Idaho, Illinois, Montana, New York, Pennsylvania and South Dakota have weaker positions on the Castle Doctrine.  A few states have no Castle Doctrine.  Those states include Iowa, Nebraska, New Mexico, Virginia and Washington, DC.

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New Bill Proposed That Would Permit Concealed Carry on a College Campus

On December 17th, 2009, a new piece of proposed legislation, Senate Bill 1011 was filed in the Arizona Senate.  The bill, introduced by Senators Harper, Alvarez, Verschoor, Russell Pearce and Sylvia Allen would make it legal for any Faculty member of a community college or university in Arizona to carry a concealed weapon on campus under existing state laws regarding lawful concealed carry.

The bill does not provide for concealed carry by staff or students, only faculty members.

The logical questions to ask might include:

1.  Since many community college and university faculty members are liberal in their political view and in many cases do not support further expansion of gun rights, would the law really make any difference.

2.  Why have university and community college staff been excluded from the law?  If faculty is permitted to concealed carry, then why not staff members?

3.  Why exclude students that would otherwise be permitted to carry a concealed firearm?  In order to receive a concealed carry permit in Arizona, a person must be at least 21 years of age.  Community colleges in particular tend to cater to large numbers of adults that wish to continue their formal education.  In many cases, there are more adults attending community colleges than persons between the ages of 18 and 21.

While this bill is certainly a step in the right direction, it seems to arbitrarily and unreasonably limit the scope of who should be allowed to carry a concealed firearm on a community college or university campus.  Let’s hope that we see some expansion of the persons included in the legislation as it works its way through the legislative process.

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Retired Federal Law Enforcement…Do I need an AZ CCW Permit to Carry Concealed?

Question: I am a retired Supervisory (GS-14)Border Patrol Agent (21+years and in good standing). I carry my retired credentials from the Department of Homeland Security. I have a Border Patrol firearms instructor certification until 2012. I have also just obtained a license as an armed security guard for AZ. Can I carry concealed or do I need the 8 hour course?

Answer: There is bad news and good news.  The bad news is that even with your retired federal officer credentials, you must had an Arizona CCW Permit to carry concealed in Arizona.  The good new is that since you were a Border Patrol Agent for more than 10 years and retired in good standing, you can apply for a CCW permit without having to take the 8 hour training course.  You can submit a letter from your former agency stating that you were retired in good standing after 21 years and that will exempt you from the training requirement.  You must also submit an application for an Arizona CCW and a completed fingerprint card and a $60 processing fee along with your letter.

You could also apply for LEOSA status as well.  LEOSA refers to the Law Enforcement Officers’ Safety Act that exempts qualified active and retired law enforcement officers from many local and State provisions regarding concealed carry.  Please understand that it does not exempt you from ALL concealed carry laws, but only some.

Under Arizona Law, you can locate a LEOSA qualified instructor and demonstrate proficiency with the firearm you intend to carry in a judgmental shooting evaluation.  The instructor will provide you with an application which must be submitted to the AZ DPS Concealed Weapons Permit Unit with the following documentation:

  • The LEOSA application
  • A letter from your agency stating your credentials (active or retired)
  • A photocopy of your retired credentials issued by your former agency
  • The appropriate application fee (currently $20) in certified funds payable to the AZ DPS.

The LEOSA credentials are good for one year and must be renewed annually.  If allowed to expire the entire process must be repeated for re-certification.

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Carrying Concealed in Colorado Using an Arizona CCW Permit…

January 3, 2010 AZ CCW Laws, Reciprocity, State Firearms Laws Comments Off

Question: I have a concealed weapons permit in AZ.  I work for the Sheriff’s office in AZ as a detention officer.  Can I carry in Durango, CO while on vacation?

Answer: You can legally carry in Colorado on your Arizona permit.  You will need to carry in compliance with Colorado law.  I’d suggest that you visit the Colorado Bureau of Investigation website for more information on Concealed Carry in Colorado.

Their web address is:  http://cbi.state.co.us/ccw/relatedstats.asp

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Misdemeanor Theft and an Arizona CCW

December 29, 2009 AZ CCW Laws, State Firearms Laws Comments Off


I currently have a misdemeanor for theft, and I am aware that this prohibits me from renewing my AZ DPS Guard Card, does it also prohibit me from getting my CCW?
If it does, will it still do so if I get it set-aside? Also, a bit off-track, but do you know if my Guard Card certification will pass if I get the issue set-aside?

Answer: Having a misdemeanor conviction for theft will not prevent you from getting a CCW permit in Arizona.  Once you have satisfied your sentence and completed any court ordered probation, you can request that the conviction be “set aside”.  Even if the conviction is set aside, you will have to wait five years before you will be eligible to apply for a AZ DPS Guard Card.  Under DPS rules for licensing of Security Guards, you cannot be issued a Guard card if you have any misdemeanor conviction for theft within the last five years.  The clock starts ticking on the date of conviction and sentencing, not on the date the crime was committed.

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Resident vs. Non-Resident Arizona CCW Permits

December 29, 2009 AZ CCW Laws, Out-of-State Carry, State Firearms Laws Comments Off

Question: Can you apply for a residential permit by merely owning property in Arizona or do you need to apply for non residential status?  The reason for the question being the residential permit gives you more states that recognize your Arizona permit.

Answer: In terms of the issuance of the Arizona CCW permit, there is no distinction drawn between Arizona residents and non-resident that meet the requirement for issuance of the Arizona CCW permit.  Your question relates to recognition of the Arizona permit in other states.  Some states, like Florida, only recognize a concealed carry permit from another state when the permit is issued to a resident of that state.  They do not recognize ‘non-resident’ permit holders.  They do this specifically to prevent people that do not live in the state where the permit is issued from simply getting a permit to allow them to carry in other locations.

Currently Florida, Kansas, New Hampshire, South Carolina and West Virginia do not recognize ‘non-resident’ permits.  If you wish to carry these states, you must be in possession of a permit from your state of residence and that state’s permit must be recognized.

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Can a part year Arizona resident do a face to face transfer?

December 29, 2009 Federal Firearms Laws, State Firearms Laws Comments Off

Question:  If I purchase a gun from a private seller in Arizona and my drivers license in from Nevada and I live seasonally in Arizona, is it legal?

Answer: Under the letter of the law, you may not engage in a face to face transfer in Arizona.  Since you maintain your official resident status in Nevada, where you have your license, you are not considered to be an Arizona resident.  Under AZ law, face to face transfers may only occur between two Arizona residents.  Since your are technically a Nevada resident, you would need to send the gun to a federally licensed firearms dealer in Nevada who would transfer the firearm to you in compliance with Nevada law.

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Can someone convicted of a felony drug offense regain their right to own a firearm?

December 29, 2009 AZ CCW Laws, State Firearms Laws Comments Off

Question:  Can a felon that was convicted of a drug offense after so many years have their right to own a gun restored?

Answer: Assuming that your felony was non-violent, you may petition the court to expunge or set aside your conviction.  This is a process that you would typically hire a lawyer to handle for you.  For most felony crimes, once you have completed your sentence and any court ordered probation or parole, you should be able to apply for the expungement.  You would specifically want to request that your civil rights including your right to own a firearm be restored as part of the expungement.

Once the process is complete and your conviction has been set aside, your right to own a firearm would be restored.

Your conviction may not be set aside if you were convicted of a crime that:

Involved inflicting serious physical injury on another person
Involved the use or exhibition of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument
Requires the person to register as a sexual offender
Found that there was a sexual motivation for the commission of the crime
If the victim of the crime committed was under 15 years of age at the time the crime was committed.

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Shotguns in Apartments for Home Defense…

November 10, 2009 Firearm and Caliber Advice, State Firearms Laws Comments Off

Question:  Is it legal for my 20-year-old son who is married to have a shotgun in his apartment? I have his 16-gauge and double-barreled shotguns. He asked me to give him the 16-gauge for home protection (they live in Tucson, AZ). My husband wants to let him have it but I need answers to a few questions before I’ll give it to him. 1) Would it be legal for him to have it in his apartment? 2) Does he need a permit?  3) Does the weapon have to beregistered? 4) Is there an age restriction?

Thank you!

Answer: To answer your question directly, it is legal for your son to have a shotgun in his apartment.  He does not need a permit.  He is over the age restriction which is 18.  Arizona does not have any type of gun registration.  I would also tell him that my recommendation is that he use #8 birdshot in his shotgun if he intends to use it for personal defense and home protection while in his apartment.  The birdshot will create a fist sized hole in any person he would shoot at ranges of 20 feet or less.  It will also not penetrate multiple interior walls like buckshot or slugs would.  This will help him avoid any liability issues that might result from overpenetration of buckshot or slugs into other apartments that might be adjacent to his.

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Private Party Firearm Sales to Non-Residents

Question:  I am a Texas resident, but working in Utah.  I purchased 2 firearms while in Utah.  I am going back to Texas, but have to drive through Arizona, and New Mexico.   What are the laws for those particular states regarding transporting firearms through them?

Answer:  Thanks for your question.  While I’m sure you have no intent to do this, if you drive home with those two firearms you bought, you are actually violating Federal law.

Federal law provides that a face to face transfer of a firearm can only occur between residents of the same state if such transactions are permitted by state law.  If you are not a resident of Utah, but in fact are a resident of Texas, you should not have been able to purchase firearms from a licensed dealer without them shipping those firearms to an FFL in Texas.  Assuming you bought them from a private party, again they can only be legally transferred through an FFL since you are not a Utah resident.

The deal here is that the Feds want any person buying a firearm in ‘interstate commerce’ to be legally allowed to own a firearm in their state of residence.  The only way they can do that is by transferring them through an FFL that is in the state of residence of the purchaser.

Because many are ignorant of the law, they find themselves in the same situation that you do now.  Will you get caught?  Most probably not as long as you are a law-abiding person and don’t do anything illegal or to draw attention to the fact that you have the guns, but it will make it more difficult to establish your legal ownership of the guns.  Any bill of sale that you might have received would be evidence of your violation of Federal law.

To answer your more specific question, you can legally transport your firearm in Arizona as long as it is plain sight in the vehicle in any condition you wish.  In New Mexico, you can carry your firearm in any condition either concealed or openly in your vehicle. My recommendation would probably be to keep them unloaded and cased in the trunk or storage compartment as this is universally permitted under Federal law.  The exception to this would be any firearm that you would wish to carry for personal defense.  That one I would probably keep handy.

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Problems with Interstate Firearms Transfers

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Best Caliber Handgun for Self-Defense

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Felony Conviction and Federal Home Protection Act

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Open Carry in a Vehicle in Arizona

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Felony Conviction and Firearms Possession…

March 8, 2010

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