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Open Carry in a Vehicle in Arizona

March 25, 2010 AZ CCW Laws, Vehicle Carry Comments Off

Question:  I am coming from out of state and was wondering if it was legal for me to open carry in the state even though I don’t have an Arizona CCW permit.  My other question is can I open carry in a car or does the handgun have to be cased and loaded?

Answer:  You can open carry legally in Arizona and do not need an AZ CCW permit.  You must have a AZ CCW permit if you conceal the firearm or you could be arrested.

Regarding open carry in a vehicle, you can do that as well, however it is subject to a lot more interpretation.

Let’s say you were carrying on your right hip and you were seat-belted into your vehicle on the driver’s side.  The law states that it must be “obvious to the casual observer that you are in possession of a firearm”.  If you were involved in a traffic stop and a police officer approached on the driver’s side, would they be able to see your firearm?  Probably not.  There have been different interpretations by different jurisdictions in the Phoenix area whether this constitutes open or concealed carry.

To avoid a problem in your vehicle.  I would have it cased and in the glove box or some other storage compartment in the vehicle.  That way you won’t have any legal issues if you are involved in a traffic stop…

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Surrender of Firearms During Law Enforcement Traffic Stop…

February 22, 2010 AZ CCW Laws, Firearms Safety, Vehicle Carry Comments Off

Question:  Yesterday I was driving through Superior AZ and I got pulled over.  I had my hands at ten and two position on the steering wheel, the window down  and the car off. When the officer got to the window, I announced I was carrying and a permit holder. He immediately reached for the gun on my left hip. I protested and said “wait why do you need to take my gun, it is loaded and I do not want you to shoot me with my own gun.” He said “it was his prerogative to take anyone’s weapon.” He pulled my weapon from my holster and asked me to come back to his car. While back at his car there were at least 4 times he pointed my own gun at me. Not like he was drawn out on me but just carelessly running the barrel across my body. My question is simple.  Am I required to surrender my weapon? I know if asked I have to present my permit. This officers had me thinking I would be shot with my own gun.

Answer: Overall, your initial response to the traffic stop was exactly correct.  I recommend that permit holders keep their hands on the wheel, roll down the window and provide the information that they are a permit holder and armed without any prompting on the part of the officer.  Typically, this will result in a more comfortable stop for both the citizen and the officer.

To answer your question directly, the officer is legally permitted to take control of your firearm for the duration of the traffic stop and near every single officer will do just that.  They are permitted to do this for their own safety.  When you consider the number of police officers that are killed in traffic stops each year, you can see why this is important to them.  You might recall that Lt. Eric Shuhandler of Gilbert PD was just killed in a traffic stop at the end of January.

From the way you have described the situation that occurred during your particular traffic stop, the officer could have used more care in handling your firearm and definitely should have been more conscious of the muzzle direction.  In all of our courses, we hammer the issues of safe muzzle direction and keeping your finger off the trigger even when handling an unloaded firearm.  We do this to insure absolute safety when handling a firearm.  Sounds like the officer in question could have done a better job of safe gun handling.  For future reference, there would be nothing wrong in politely suggesting to the officer that you do not wish to be swept with the muzzle of a firearm if something like this were to occur again…

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Question about the "Parking Lot Law" in Arizona

January 21, 2010 2nd Amendment Issues, State Firearms Laws, Vehicle Carry Comments Off

Question:  Strictly going by hearsay and not actual word for word of the new law, if my employer bans guns on the property can I leave the firearm in my personal vehicle?  I also possess an
Arizona Concealed Carry permit.  Can they enforce their policy and also is there a link to that new law?  I also meant to mention
that there are fences, concrete barriers, cameras, and “loss prevention personnel” that periodically do their rounds through the parking lot.

Answer: If you read the text of the law you will see that under the circumstances that you describe, the employer may restrict the carrying of firearms on to their property.  The exact text reads:

3. The property owner, tenant, public or private employer or business entity provides a parking lot, parking garage or other area designated for parking motor vehicles, that:
(a) Is secured by a fence or other physical barrier.
(b) Limits access by a guard or other security measure.
(c) Provides temporary and secure firearm storage. The storage shall be monitored and readily accessible on entry into the premises and allow for the immediate retrieval of the firearm on exit from the premises.

In other words, if there is a fence or physical barrier and if access is limited by a guard or other security measure, they can restrict you from bringing a firearm on the property only if they “Provide temporary and secure firearm storage.  The storage shall be monitored and readily accessible on entry into the premises and allow for the immediate retrieval of the firearm on exit from the premises.”

If they don’t restrict access with a guard or they don’t provide secure storage, they cannot restrict you from leaving the firearm locked inside your vehicle.  Having a CCW is not relevant as long as you are lawfully in possession of the firearm and you are otherwise transporting it lawfully.

If you would like to review the exact text of the law, you can find it at the following link:  http://www.azleg.state.az.us/FormatDocument.asp?inDoc=/ars/12/00781.htm&Title=12&DocType=ARS

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Legally Carrying a Firearm on School Grounds in Arizona…

January 19, 2010 AZ CCW Laws, Vehicle Carry Comments Off

Question: I understand that is it illegal to bring a firearm on or near school grounds in Arizona. I went to the NRA website and they provide gun laws for each state. And I went to Arizona gun laws and I found this.

“It is unlawful to possess a deadly weapon on grade or high school grounds. This shall not apply to an unloaded firearm within a means of transportation under the control of an adult, provided, if the adult leaves the vehicle, it shall be locked and the unloaded firearm shall not be visible, or for a program approved by the school.”

Would this still be illegal to do? Thanks.

Answer: Legally, an adult in Arizona is permitted to have a firearm in their vehicle on school grounds if the firearm is under their direct control, the firearm is unloaded and out of sight.  This permits a legally armed parent or guardian to pick up or drop off a student at a school without any legal issues.  If they need to go into the school for any reason, the firearm must remain locked in the vehicle, unloaded and out of sight.

The only time it is legal to bring a firearm into a school would be if the firearm were being used in a program approved by the school and the person in possession of the firearm had the expressed permission of the primary administrator of the school.

In general, this same law is also applied to any college or university campus in Arizona.

I hope this clarifies how you are legally permitted to bring a firearm on school grounds.

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What is "carrying concealed"?

January 19, 2010 AZ CCW Laws, Vehicle Carry Comments Off

Question: Do you have to have a ccw to conceal a handgun on your body if it is holstered, and locked into place..is that considered having “immediate use”?
Answer: If you have a concealed firearm on your person in Arizona, you must have an AZ CCW permit to carry it legally.  Carrying a concealed firearm on your person without a Arizona CCW permit is a Class 1 Misdemeanor and carries a penalty of up to 6 months in jail and a fine of $2500.

It does not matter if it is holstered or not, if it concealed, it requires that you have a permit.  You may openly carry legally, but to be open carry the firearm must be “wholly or partially visible” and it must be “obvious to the casual observer that you are in possession of a firearm”.

The “immediate use” factor that you reference is only applicable when carrying in a vehicle and is used to determine if you are considered to be “transporting” a firearm or “concealing” a firearm in a vehicle.  If you have a firearm in a vehicle, and if the firearm is concealed and is “immediately accessible”, then you must have a AZ CCW permit.  If the firearm is contained within a case, and that case is inside a storage compartment (glove box, console, etc.), then the firearm are generally thought of as being “transported” and no Arizona CCW permit is required.

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Open Carry Inside a Vehicle – Again…

December 29, 2009 AZ CCW Laws, Vehicle Carry Comments Off

Question:  A local city PD said it is illegal to carry a handgun in a holster visible on your side while in a car without a CCW.  DPS said it is legal to do this.  I was also told this is open to interpretation.  Who is right?

Answer: You have discovered one of the ‘interpretive’ areas of the law relative to carrying a firearm in a vehicle.  I recently wrote an article about this topic which you can read at the link below.  The short version is that it depends on how the person in question defines the term “wholly or partially visible”.  As you can see, there is a difference of opinion between your local PD and DPS.  I would say that opinions could vary widely.  Until the statute is clarified or tested in court, it is unclear.

The easiest way to solve the problem is to get a CCW permit.  Then the whole issue goes away…


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Holstered Open Carry in a Vehicle…

December 29, 2009 AZ CCW Laws, Vehicle Carry Comments Off

Question:  Is it legal to open carry a holstered pistol on your person in the strong side hip position on your belt while driving a motor vehicle in Arizona if you do not have a CCW permit.  The holstered weapon is slid around to the front lateral side of the abdomen so as not to sit on it while driving.  The pistol butt, handle and holster are visible from the drivers side window as well as from other windows.

Answer: This is a pretty tricky question since open carry in Arizona requires that the gun be “wholly or partially visible” when carried in a holster.  The problem is that different people may have a different interpretation of what is “wholly or partially visible”.  The problem is this.  While the situation you describe might be ‘technically’ permissible under the law, a police officer that stops you for a traffic stop might feel that your holstered gun is not ‘wholly or partially visible’ and arrest you on a firearms misconduct charge.  You can avoid this by simply placing the gun on the seat next to you.  An even better solution is to simply get an CCW permit and then you won’t have any issue at all.

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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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Leaving Your Gun in the Car…

Question: I have an AZ CCW.  When I go to the post office with my daughter what do I need to do?  I can’t hide the gun in the car if she does not have a CCW.  What would you suggest I do?  The same thing goes any time I am with family and need to leave the car to enter an airport or federal building.  Thanks!

Answer: I am assuming that your daughter does not have an AZ CCW permit since she is not old enough to get one.  In a situation like this, you need to have some sort of locking enclosure for your firearm in your vehicle.  There are any number of devices from a variety of manufacturers that can be used to secure your firearm while you are out of the vehicle.  My favorite is a product called a “Gunvault”.  It is a steel box that is opened by using a user defined combination.  When you put in the correct combination, an access door opens allowing you to remove the firearm.  They are relatively inexpensive (less than $100 in most places) and very secure, especially if bolted to the floorboard of your car or in your trunk.  Using a locking enclosure or placing the firearm in the trunk of the car will make it ‘inaccessible’ to your daughter or other family members that don’t have a CCW and will keep it secure from children that should not have access to a firearm while you are out of the vehicle.

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Traveling from California to Arizona with a Handgun…

Question: I will be traveling to Arizona from California, and was thinking of bringing my S&W M&P 40.  I am an experienced hand gun owner, and know California Hand Gun law pretty well. Once I cross into AZ, I can load it, holster it and put it in a glove compartment or center storage, correct ?  I don’t have a CCW AZ yet.  Can a California resident open carry in AZ ?

My other question is it worth it, to bring it, under the circumstances?. ( I know that’s a loaded question !!) I will not carry it open in AZ, I do not want that kind of attention,
in general and again I would lock it up in the hotel in a hotel safe

When my wife and I stop for the bathroom, can I keep it on the seat next to me?  I want to keep an eye on my girl.  What is we break down, then can I open carry or just keep it within sight or reach on the car seat?  I just don’t want more stress then needed going in to another state, but don’t want to regret not taking it.  Advice?  Thanks!

Answer: Yes, once you cross into Arizona from California, you are subject to Arizona law.  Arizona permits you to have a holstered or cased firearm in the storage compartment of a vehicle (loaded or unloaded).  The key is that the firearm may not be ‘immediately accessible’ to the occupants of the vehicle unless they have an Arizona CCW permit.  Since the handgun would be in a case or holster and then secondarily in a glove box or storage console, you would be fine.  Since you are subject to Arizona law while visiting, you can legally engage in open carry as long as it is in a location where open carry is permitted by Arizona law.  A word to the wise, don’t carry into any establishment that serves alcohol.  That is a big no-no here.

Is it worth it to bring it?  How much is your life worth?  Seriously, I carry a firearm everywhere as long as I am legally permitted to do so.  You never know when you will need it, so in my opinion, when you don’t have it you are completely unprotected.  As far as your bathroom stops, you can legally have your firearm immediately accessible as long as it is in plain view on the seat or anywhere else in the vehicle as long as it is plainly visible to the casual observer.

Personally, I encourage people to keep their firearm handy.  You truly never know when a criminal attack may happen.  Another key is to maintain a high level of awareness of what is happening around you.  If you are alert to your environment and aware of developing situations around you, a lot of times you can spot potential trouble before it happens and take steps to mitigate or avoid the situation altogether.

Enjoy your visit to Arizona and please do exercise your Second Amendment rights here.

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