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Transporting a Handgun Across State Lines…

September 2, 2009 AZ CCW Laws, Firearms Transfers, Vehicle Carry Comments Off

Question: I am buying a handgun from a friend in Denver and have to carry it back to Orlando.  I have a Dodge 1500 with a jump seat in the middle of two buckets.  I use the top side of the jump seat as a rest or table when necessary and want to use the area under the jump seat as my weapon storage.  I have another friend that is going to put a biometric opening device on the dash in the form of a thumb reader which will unlock the mag locks.  Once the mag lock is disengaged I will have to lift the seat to access the weapon. Is this in compliance with the two step rule?

Answer: By now you have probably already purchased the handgun and transported it back.  Unfortunately, to be legal, a transfer between residents of two different states must be handled through a Federal Firearms Dealer or FFL.  Private transfers between residents of two different states is prohibited by Federal law.  If you haven’t already done the transaction, you can find a summary of how you should transfer the firearm at the following link: http://www.arizonaccwguide.com/2008/08/28/firearms-transfers-how-to-do-it-right/

If you have already done the transfer, don’t tell the BATF.  ;-)

With respect to transporting the firearm, the ‘two step’ rule that you refer to really only applies in Arizona.  Each state has different laws regarding legally transporting a firearm.  Some, like Texas, are very relaxed about it.  Others are much more restrictive.

To insure that you don’t have any issues, you should transport the firearm in an unloaded and cased condition.  If you have the firearm unloaded and cased and in the storage area under the jump seat, that will be fine in virtually every state you might travel through.  If the firearm is loaded and uncased, you need to check the laws of each individual state that you will travel through to make sure you are not violating any laws.  A really good reference for this is a book called “The Firearms Laws of the 50 States” by J. Scott Kappas.  He has done a great job of summarizing all of the relevant concealed carry and transportation laws in a single source.

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Questions about the new Arizona "Parking Lot Law"…

August 14, 2009 Legal Issues, Vehicle Carry Comments Off

Question:  The current version of the parking lot law states that firearms may be restricted in a parking lot if  “A property owner provides a parking lot or garage that is secured by a fence or other physical barrier, has limited access using a security guard or other security measure or if they provide secure temporary storage for firearms that is readily accessible on entry and exit from the premises.”  So I wonder if this would include a drop gate ( a wooden drop-down gate) that prevents cars from entering, though allows anyone on foot to walk in/through the garage or parking lot.”

Answer: Based on the language of this law, this is open to argument and interpretation.  The intention of the law would seem to be talking about a parking lot that has true limited access.  The situation you describe would only have limited vehicular access, but not restrict access by pedestrians.  In my opinion, this would not qualify as ‘limited access’ under the new law.  However, I am not naive enough to think that a non-gun friendly court could interpret the law differently.  This is one of those areas where we will have to see what actually develops as the law is implemented.

This is probably not a very satisfying answer if you were looking for a clear cut ‘yes’ or ‘no’.  Unfortunately, it is the best I can give you at this point.

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Concealed Carry in a Vehicle with Children…

August 9, 2009 AZ CCW Laws, Firearms Safety, Kids and Guns, Vehicle Carry Comments Off

Question: If I am in my vehicle, and I have CCW permit but my passenger does not, I understand that it is unlawful to have a concealed firearm that is “immediately accessible” to either of
us.  The answer to the following question seems obvious but thought I’d ask: I assume that this applies to minor passengers also.  In other words, if I have minor aged children that are old enough to ride in the front seat, I cannot have a concealed weapon in the area if they ride up there.  In other words my choices are to: (1) have my children [until they are old enough to get their own CCW] always ride in the back seat or (2) never  have a concealed weapon in the front seat area when they sitting up there with me.

Answer: There are a couple of issues that we need to consider in your question.

First, there is the issue of legality of concealed carry in a vehicle occupied by someone who does not have a Arizona CCW permit.  You are correct when you state that an adult in the front seat of the vehicle that does not have a permit is breaking the law if there is a concealed firearm in the vehicle that is ‘immediately accessible’ for their use.  This would also apply to any minor children.  With a minor child, another aspect of the law kicks in as it is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to be in possession of a firearm except under the direct supervision of their parent or guardian or unless they have explicit written permission of their parent or guardian.

Second, and more importantly, there is the issue of firearms safety and making sure that your firearm is inaccessible to anyone that is not authorized to have a firearm or does not understand how to safely handle a firearm.

There is no way that I would have a firearm in my vehicle and have children in that vehicle unless my firearm was either under my direct personal control (on my body) or secured in a locking box or case!

The issue is basically this:  if your firearm is not secured and there are children in the vehicle, you are taking a substantial risk with the safety of your children or others.  Kids will be kids.  No matter how much you impress upon them the danger of handling any firearm, there will always be the temptation to handle, examine or play with the gun.  As soon as that happens, they are at risk.  While I realize that you are probably a very responsible individual and a loving parent, there is always the risk, however slight, that you might exit the car for just a moment and leave the firearm unattended while the kids are in the car.  As soon as that happens, there is the possibility of a tragedy.  The only way to eliminate that possibility keep it on your person, under your direct personal control or lock it up.

Please don’t mistake my emphasis on safety as any sort of reprimand.  I just want to make sure that my message is clear, not only for you but for anyone else reading this article.

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Transporting Firearms by Car from Florida to Arizona

Question: I am a resident of floria, but will be relocating to Arizona. I have CCW permits in several states, Fla, Utah, etc.  I do not have a permit specific to Arizona, yet.  I expect to drive from
Florida to Arizona in two weeks.

I have a 12 gauge Trap gun, 2 kimber 45 caliber pistols, 1 FN Five Seven and 1 Walther PPS.  I will carry either the Kimber or Walther as my concealed firearm.  I also have approximately 800 rounds of 45 cal and about 400 rounds of 12 gauge.

What do you recommend beyond ammo stored in locked ammo cases, and guns cased and locked?

Answer: Sounds you have a nice collection of firearms.  As far as transporting the guns, cased and unloaded will be fine for all states that you are traveling through.  There is a federal law on the books that permits you to transport in that condition, even though you might be going through a state that has more restrictive local firearms laws.  As far a concealed carry during your travels, your Florida permit should be adequate assuming a southern route through Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.  All those states recognize the Florida permit.

Once you become an Arizona resident, you will need to get an Arizona permit.  Usually the thing that puts you in that situation is getting an Arizona driver license and plates.  Arizona permits non-residents to carry on an out-of-state permit, but if you are a resident, they want you to have an Arizona permit.

I hope you’ll consider taking a look at our CCW classes when the time comes.  We give one of the best in the state…

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Do I have to volunteer that I have a AZ CCW during a traffic stop?

Question:  My wife and I will be visiting from Alabama.  Are Arizona and New Mexico proclaimation states. This is our first trip out west.
Thanks.

Answer: You should note that New Mexico does not recognize the Alabama concealed weapons permit at this time.  This information was taken directly from the New Mexico DPS website.  Arizona does honor the Alabama permit.

In Arizona you are not required to volunteer your status as a Arizona CCW permit holder or whether or not you are armed.  Similarly, in New Mexico you are not required to notify the officer that you are in possession of a permit or a firearm.  However, in both states if you are asked you must present your permit on request.  Additionally, in both states the officer can take possession of your firearm for the duration of the traffic stop.  This is primarily for their safety.  It will be returned to you at the end of the traffic stop if there are no other irregularities such as an altered serial number or the firearm has been reported stolen.  In every case I have seen, the firearm is returned to you in an unloaded condition.

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"Parking Lot Law" is signed by Governor Brewer.

In another major victory for Arizona gun owners and Arizona Concealed Weapons permit holders, Governor Brewer signed into law the so called “Parking Lot Law”.  The new law permits gun owners to keep a firearm locked inside their vehicle even if the vehicle is parked on private property owned by a business that prohibits weapons on their premises.  This new law takes effect on September 30, 2009.

Prior to the passage of this law, businesses could prohibit employees or visitor from bringing a firearm on to their private property.  This effectively kept gun owners from exercising their Second Amendment right to carry a firearm for personal defense.  Someone leaving their home to go to work could not bring a firearm with them for the purpose of self defense or defense of their family members during their trip to and from work or when traveling to any destination they might visit during their travels between home and work.

The substance of the new law can be outlined as follows:

  • Property owners may not establish, maintain or enforce a policy or rule that prohibits a person from lawfully transporting or storing a firearm that is in a privately owned, locked vehicle as long as the firearm is not visible from the outside of the vehicle.

The new law does not apply if:

  • Applicable State or Federal laws prohibit firearm possession.
  • A vehicle is owned or leased by a public or private employer and used by an employee.
  • A property owner provides a parking lot or garage that is secured by a fence or other physical barrier, has limited access using a security guard or other security measure and provides secure temporary storage for firearms that is readily accessible on entry and exit from the premises.
  • Exceptional circumstances exist such as the need for the business to comply with State or Federal law prohibiting firearms on the premises.
  • If the business is located on the premises of a military installation or a nuclear power plant.
  • If the business provides an alternative parking area near the primary parking area for those wishing to transport a firearm in their vehicles.

This law makes great progress towards helping to insure that gun owners and Arizona CCW permit holders can exercise their right to defend themselves while traveling to and from work.  All of the provisions of the new law make sense to me except the last one.  If a property owner or business creates a separate parking area for ‘the gun people’, it is my opinion that this makes any vehicle parked in that lot a target for being broken into by anyone that might suspect there is a firearm in the vehicle.

Even with the flawed last provision, this is a major step forward for lawful gun owners in Arizona.

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Answering Questions Regarding Armed Status During a Traffic Stop…

Question:  My Boyfriend carries his concealed weapons permit (CCW). He was recently driving and got pulled over. Of course this info is on file. The officer asked my BF if he had his gun. My BF stated no.

Question 1. Did he have to answer this question and is it a felony to not answer? The cop said it was and “cut him a break”. The reason my BF said no is that he got pulled over once before and told the police officer he had a gun. The police officer was rather rude and stated “SO, I have a gun, too”. So my BF just did not want to deal with that again.

The second time the police officer asked my BF said Yes he had his gun. The officer ordered him out of his car and patted him down. The police officer asked where the gun was and to which my BF replied it was in the center console. He told my BF to get back in his car and give the police officer the gun so he could check the serial number.Everything was good and he was given a ticket and then left.

Other question, is the serial number that the police officer checked now on file? Thank you for your help.

Answer: In general, the fact that a person is a concealed weapons permit holder is attached to their driver license record and/or vehicle record.  When the officer pulled up the info during the traffic stop, he became aware of the fact that your boyfriend had a concealed carry permit.

Under state law in most states, you must provide your concealed weapons permit on request and you are required, if asked, to state truthfully whether you are armed on not.

This is primarily for the officer’s safety.  The penalty for ‘providing false information’ to a police officer varies from state to state.  For the most part, making a false statement to a police officer is a misdemeanor crime.  Your boyfriend should not have lied to the officer about whether or not he was armed.  In fact, the officer DID give him a break as he could have charged him with a misdemeanor and even arrested him.

I’m not surprised that the officer did a pat down on your boyfriend under the circumstances.  Remember, the officer is not trying to give you or you boyfriend a hard time.  He is trying to protect himself.  More police officers are killed in traffic stops than in any other duty related tasks they do combined.

In most states, the officer is allowed to take the gun for the duration of the traffic stop.  In most cases, they will run a quick serial number check to insure that the firearm is not stolen. There is generally no record made of the serial number.  If it is clear, the gun is returned to the owner in an unloaded condition at the end of the stop.

In the future, I’d suggest that despite the fact that you might get a ‘rude’ officer, overall there is much better chance for a positive outcome if you tell the truth and cooperate fully with the police officer.

Hope this helps you out and thanks for your question.

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Lawful Carry in a Vehicle without an AZ CCW Permit

February 25, 2009 AZ CCW Laws, Legal Issues, Vehicle Carry Comments Off

Question:  I am 18 years old and I am turning 19 this March. My father gave me a handgun for Christmas. If I carry it in a holster under the seat of my vehicle. Will that be considered concealed? Will I be arrested just for keeping a gun in a holster under my seat? I live in Arizona also. I’m still confused about vehicle carry law. Can you help me?

Answer: There are several questions here, so let’s take them one at a time.  First, you can legally own a handgun at age 18 in Arizona.  That means that you can legally carry it openly in any location where it is legal for you to have a firearm.  “Open Carry” means that it would be obvious to the casual observer that you are in possession of a firearm.  If you carry openly in a vehicle, this would mean that anyone looking into the vehicle should be able to clearly see there is a gun.  That would mean keeping it on the dashboard, on the seat or in some other location where the firearm is not partially concealed, but clearly visible.

When you start putting it in places where it is out of sight you start to have issues.  Arizona uses the idea of ‘immediate access’ to differentiate between ‘concealing’ a firearm vs. simply ‘transporting’ a firearm in a vehicle.  If the firearm in your vehicle is concealed and immediately accessible, you must have a concealed weapons permit to carry it in that manner.  However, if it concealed and not immediately accessible, then you are simply transporting the firearm in your vehicle which is perfectly legal.

There are several court cases in which the definitions of  ‘immediate access’ and ‘concealed’ have been discussed.  In the interest of trying to keep things simple, the best suggestion that I can offer is to keep your firearm ‘two steps removed from immediate access’.  This would mean keeping the gun in a holster or case and then placing the holstered or cased gun in the glove box or console.  To use the firearm you would have to 1) open the glove box or console and 2) remove it from the holster or case.  This is perfectly legal.

On the other hand, it is my opinion that a gun in a holster underneath a car seat doesn’t pass the two step test.  This would especially be true if the holster was wedged underneath the seat or you attached the holster to the seat frame.  Now all you have to do is reach down and grab the gun, pulling it from the holster.  In my book, that is only a single step.  Others might have a different opinion, but since I am a cautious sort of individual, I would view a handgun in a holster and under the seat to be immediately accessible.  This would mean that an individual without an AZ CCW permit would be at risk of violating the law.  Since concealing a firearm without a permit is a class 2 misdemeanor, which carries a penalty of up to 4 months in jail and/or a fine of $750, I probably would be a little more cautious and make sure that the ‘two step’ rule always applies when you have a gun in the car.

I know the law seems confusing.  Unfortunately, this is the kind of thing that often happens in our system of government.  The legislature passes laws, then the court tries to interpret what the legislature actually was trying to accomplish when they wrote the law.  Sometimes the courts do a good job of this.  Sometimes they make things even more confusing.

Stick with ‘two steps removed from immediate access’ when you have your handgun in your vehicle and you will be just fine.

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Open Carry and Loaded Handguns…

February 25, 2009 AZ CCW Laws, Vehicle Carry 1 Comment

Question: I understand that if an individual does not have a CCW for the State of Arizona that a handgun is still legal to carry loaded on ones person as long as it is holstered and a portion of the holster/gun is visible, is this true?  On another question by another visitor to your site regarding transporting a firearm in a vehicle, your answer was it could be in car as long as it was visible, but can it be loaded?

Answer: Since Arizona is an open carry state, it is perfectly legal for you to openly carry a handgun anywhere it is legal for you to be in possession of a handgun.  The law does not distinguish between loaded or unloaded.  Personally, I would only carry a loaded gun since otherwise it is no good for the purposes of self defense.  I would also clarify that under Arizona law, “open carry” requires that the gun be plainly visible such that the casual observer would know that you are armed.  Similarly, if you are carrying openly in a vehicle, the firearm can be loaded.

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Holstered Handgun Underneath a Car Seat – Legal or Not?

January 27, 2009 AZ CCW Laws, Kids and Guns, Vehicle Carry Comments Off

Question: I was recently told that if you have a handgun under the driver’s seat of your vehicle it is not considered concealed as long as it is in a holster. This differs from what I was taught. I tried looking in the Arizona Revised Statutes and could not find a clear definition of concealed. If you could tell me if that statement was true or not, and or give me a good reference, it would be greatly appreciated.

Answer:  Here’s the deal.  Based on some of the interpretations in the State of Arizona v. Moerman decision and other court rulings (check the 2nd link below for details), there is room for ‘interpretation’ on the part of law enforcement as to whether a holstered handgun under the seat of a vehicle is ‘concealed’.  The decision essentially stated that if the gun is ‘concealed’ and ‘immediately accessible’ you need to have a CCW permit.  The problem is the definition of ‘immediately accessible’.  Most interpretations are that if the firearm is ‘two steps removed from immediate access’, it is not ‘immediately accessible’ and is therefore not being improperly concealed by a non permit holder.  It is simply being ‘transported’.

Here’s where it gets a little more complicated.  Is a firearm under the seat in a holster ‘immediately accessible’?  Some will say yes, some will say no.  There is no statute.  This is law that has been made by courts interpreting what ‘open carry’ vs ‘concealed carry’ means based on their reading of the statute.  A pro-gun judge might view it one way, while an anti-gun judge might read it differently.

In order to keep people out of trouble, CCW instructors teach the ‘two steps removed from immediate access’ rule for those that don’t have a permit.  If you do have a permit, you can pretty much conceal the gun anywhere you like in your vehicle, holstered or not.

Check out the two links below for some prior posts and additional details.

http://www.arizonaccwguide.com/2008/03/07/carrying-a-firearm-in-a-vehicle-when-the-firearm-is-partially-concealed/

http://www.arizonaccwguide.com/2008/04/20/carrying-a-handgun-in-a-vehicle-when-the-driver-has-a-valid-arizona-ccw-permit/

I hope this helps to clarify this very confusing area of law…

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