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Concealed Carry on School Grounds during Weekend Church Services

December 5, 2008 AZ CCW Laws, Kids and Guns, Legal Issues 3 Comments

Question:  Our church, like many in the Valley, meet in a public school on Sundays for worship.  Would it be legal to carry concealed at that time?  In other words, is it only illegal to carry on school property while children attending the school are present?  It seems a shame to even ask this question on carrying a weapon to church, but the the tragedies that have happened at churches, I would consider it with permission from my pastor.  Thank you.

Answer:   It is indeed a shame that we have to begin to consider issues like these.  Unfortunately they have been with us a long time.  During a much earlier part of our history, going back to colonial times, congregants were actually encouraged to bring their firearms to church.  It is a commentary on the current state of affairs they we now must be diligent in preparing for attacks from those who do not honor our belief systems or from common criminals bent on robbery or worse.

Unfortunately, the law does not differentiate between whether children are in attendance at a school or not.  It simply states that firearms are not permitted on school grounds.  Since you are meeting on school property, it would be my opinion that firearms would not be legally permitted unless you have the written permission of the school administration.  They are the only ones who can authorize firearms on campus for any reason.  Typically, this authorization would only be granted for firearms being used for educational purposes like a class or demonstration.

While I am not a lawyer and cannot give you legal advice, my opinion would be that Arizona law does not permit you to bring a firearm on school property unless it is unloaded, locked inside your vehicle and hidden from view.  According to Arizona law, this is the only way your firearm can legally be on school property.

That law, while well intentioned, essentially creates a “gun free zone” in which criminals or terrorists can operate freely without fear of encountering a legally armed citizen.  You see, criminals don’t care about breaking the law, only law-abiding citizens do.  If we continue to educate and lobby our legislators, perhaps logic and reason will overcome the irrational fear that results in this type of legislation and laws will be passed to allow a legally armed citizen to protect themselves and their family without fear of breaking the law.

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Currently there are "3 comments" on this Article:

  1. Charlie says:

    Read carefully ars 13-3102. I will show you the relevant sections:

    A. A person commits misconduct involving weapons by knowingly:
    12. Possessing a deadly weapon on school grounds; or

    C. Subsection A, paragraphs 1, 2, 3, 7, 10, 11, 12 and 13 of this section shall not apply to:
    4. A person specifically licensed, authorized or permitted pursuant to a statute of this state or of the United States.

    My interpretation of this is that a CWP holder can carry on school grounds, according to arizona law. But NOT according to Federal law I believe. So do it in front of a state cop, but not an FBI agent.

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  2. Charlie says:

    Interesting. Thank you, I didn’t know that about the Federal law. I’ve been really reading up on state law, not so much federal. Now, regardless of what ars 13-3102 says, all the schools I’ve seen are posted no weapons. So, would this mean having a CWP just keeps it from being a criminal matter, but similar to a private business they can ask you to leave?

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  3. Doug Little says:

    Charlie,

    There has been a significant amount of confusion about this topic, especially since the passage of the Federal “Gun Free School Zone” Act passed in 1990. That law made it illegal to carry a firearm within 1000 feet of a school. As with many ‘knee jerk’ laws, our legislators, in an attempt to show they were ‘doing something’, passed a bad law. It turned anyone living within 1000 feet of a school that owned a firearm into a criminal. Similarly, the act of driving down a street while legally armed could cause problems if there was a school on the street. That law was overturned as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1995. The laws technical defects were corrected and the law was passed again in 1996 with the provision that the law did not apply to possession of a firearm on private property that was not a part of the school grounds. It also was clarified that the law did not apply to an individual who was in possession of a loaded firearm that was licensed to do so by the State (concealed carry license or firearm permit). So, while your interpretation of ARS 13-3102 is correct, I suspect your comment about Federal law is based on old information…

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