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Arizona CCW Permit

What is an Arizona Concealed Weapons Permit?

apdi_28_2_2.jpgEffective July 29, 2010, the State of Arizona no longer requires that persons wishing to carry a concealed firearm have a Concealed Weapons Permit.  Anyone legally present in the state can legally carry a concealed firearm in any location where it is permitted to have a firearm.  Under certain circumstances, having a permit to carry issued by the Arizona Department of Public Safety gains you certain privileges that so-called “Constitutional Concealed Carry” does not allow.

For example, Federal law permits a person to carry a firearm in their vehicle while transiting school property if they have a valid concealed weapons permit issued by their state of residence.  Those without permits are not permitted to do this.  In addition, certain restaurants and bars in Arizona do allow concealed carry as long as the person is not consuming alcohol.  In order to carry a concealed firearm in these establishments, one must have a concealed weapons permit issued by Arizona or a state where the concealed weapons permit is recognized by Arizona.  Probably one of the biggest advantages to having an Arizona Concealed Weapons Permit is the fact that that permit is recognized in 30 other states, allowing you to carry a concealed weapon when you are traveling outside of Arizona.

In Arizona, you may apply for and be issued a permit to carry a concealed firearm.  This permit, know as an Arizona CCW Permit, AZ CCW Permit or Arizona Concealed Weapons Permit will allow you to carry a concealed firearm anywhere it is legal for you to have a firearm in the State of Arizona. The Arizona CCW Permit program is administered by the Arizona Department of Public Safety.  The AZ DPS creates administrative rules associated with the permit program and insures compliance with the CCW permit law as defined in Arizona Revised Statutes.

An Arizona CCW Permit will be issued to anyone who meets all of the following criteria:

Is a United States citizen or is a legal resident of the US

Is 21 years of age or older

Is not under indictment for or has never been convicted of a felony offense

Has never been convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence offense

Does not have an active Order of Restraint issued against them

Has not been judged mentally incompetent by a court of competent jurisdiction or has never been committed to a mental institution

Passes a criminal background check by the State of Arizona

Completes an Arizona DPS Certified Firearms Safety (CCW) Course which must include passing a written examination and completing a live-fire firearms qualification consisting of a minimum of 20 rounds (10 shots at 5 yards, 10 shots at 10 yards) with 70% of shots within the secondary scoring ring of an approved target (14” x 16”).

In addition, anyone who completes an NRA Firearms Safety Course, a Hunter Education Course, any type of firearms or firearms safety course taught by an NRA instructor, any law enforcement or security guard firearms training course, anyone who has proof of prior or current honorable military service or who can show a valid or expired concealed weapons or firearms permit from another state or political subdivision as long as that state has a training and testing requirement can use any of these credentials to satisfy the training requirement to apply for an Arizona CCW Permit.

If I wanted to take the ‘Official’ Arizona CCW Course, where could I do that?

Armed Personal Defense Institute (APDI)  provides high quality firearms training and offers the ‘official’ 8 hour Arizona CCW courses monthly throughout Arizona.  For schedule information you can visit the APDI website at http://www.armedpersonaldefense.com.

How do I select the right training organization?

Selecting the right training organization can be a confusing process.  Unfortunately, most people will select their training organization based on either price or location, neither of which is a very good criteria.  You should be thinking ‘quality instruction’, not cheapest or closest.  The quality of instruction you receive may make the difference between making the correct decision about using your firearm or making an incorrect decision that could result in a tragic accident or potential criminal charges for your actions.  While the Arizona DPS provides each training organization with a course outline that they are required to use for the Arizona CCW training, the content delivered and quality of instruction can vary widely.

At APDI we focus on providing more than just the ‘minimums’, especially for the AZ CCW permit and provide what you need to know to gain more than a basic proficiency in your firearm and develop a deeper understanding of they ‘whys’ of issues as opposed to just covering the basics.

What do I look for in an instructor?  How can I tell if they really know what they are talking about?

Actually, there are several factors that you can look at when selecting a instructor.  One of the most important things to look at is the level of training your instructor has received.  Arizona DPS requires that all Firearms Safety Instructors (CCW instructors) have NRA instructor ratings in Basic Pistol and Personal Protection in the Home disciplines.  This equates to roughly 30 hours of training on the part of the instructor.  If you don’t think that is very much, you are correct.  Find out what additional training your instructor has received and how recently they received it.  Firearms stills are highly perishable and must be practiced regularly to insure proficiency, plus new techniques are coming out all the time.  If the last training your instructor received was his or her NRA training 5 years ago, that is probably not a good sign.  I’d also ask how many times they have taught the class you are thinking of taking.  Some instructors teach only occasionally or on a part-time basis.  It is also important to look at where they received their training.  Advanced training from a nationally recognized firearms training facility like Gunsite, Blackwater, USA,  Thunder Ranch or Suarez International is a real plus since these organizations provide some of the best firearms training available in the world.

APDI Instructors are required to undergo a minimum of 80 hours each year of advanced firearms training or additional instructor certifications.

Should my instructor have a law enforcement or military background?

The fact that the instructor has a law enforcement or military background may or may not have an bearing on the quality of instruction you receive.  Like most large organizations, there are many roles that one can have in either the military or law enforcement.  Some are completely unrelated to firearms and legal training.   Again, you need to find out specifically what their training and qualifications are.  Ask them what firearms training they received and when they received it.  For example, most military training is in rifle skills.  In general, pistol training for most in the military is very minimal.  Similarly in law enforcement, many officers rarely use their firearm in the conduct of their duty, some only during their semi-annual firearms qualification.  Find out what kind of  firearms training they have done and what training they have received regarding the laws related to concealed carry and use of force issues.

What about Safety issues.  Is the course potentially dangerous?

Any activity that involves the use of loaded firearms has an element of risk associated with it.  When speaking with any training organization, ask about their safety record.  Find out what they do to insure the class is safe for all participants.  At a minimum, they should strictly adhere to the Four Rules of Firearms Safety and follow range safety standards as set by the NRA Range Safety Officer training program.  Find out if your instructor is certified as a range safety officer.  While this is not necessarily a requirement in an instructor, it does show a certain additional commitment to safety on the range.

APDI Instructors are all NRA certified Range Safety Officers and are committed to providing an safe training environment for students and instructor alike.

What kind of experience with firearms do I need to take an Arizona CCW Permit course?

The answer to this question can vary widely across training organizations.  Many of the training organizations want their AZ CCW students to come to the class with a basic knowledge of firearms and basic shooting skills.  The rationale for having this pre-requisite experience is the fact that the time available in the AZ CCW course is extremely limited and there is a great deal of material to cover.  Coming to the course with the basics already under your belt allows more time to be spent on other areas.  The reality is that this can be a ‘double-edged’ sword that cuts both ways.  Sometimes people bring bad habits and pre-conceived notions about what is ‘legal’ or what is ‘proper technique’.  The end result for these students is that they must ‘unlearn’ some things.  The reality is that the DPS course is designed to teach people that have little or no knowledge about firearms the basics of what they need to know to safely carry a firearm.  It is not designed to make them proficient in the use of a firearm or provide them with detailed training in the legal issues associated with the use of force.

What type of content will discussed during an Arizona CCW Permit course?

The AZ CCW Course is designed to survey a broad range of very basic information regarding the types of handguns available, their safe operation and storage, basic marksmanship skills including proper grip, stances and aiming techniques, mental preparedness,  the do’s and don’ts of concealed carry, legal issues including some basic definitions and how the legal system operates, laws regarding use of both lethal and non-lethal force, discussions of shoot/don’t shoot scenarios, and various administrative rules regarding the Arizona CCW permits.

APDI invests significantly in the training of their instructors with the goal of staying on the cutting edge of firearms techniques and incorporating those techniques into the APDI curriculum.

What if I don’t have a firearm?  Do I need to buy a gun before going to class?

Most quality training organizations have rental firearms available for a nominal fee.  For example, APDI provides Glock 9mm and .40 cal handguns, the use of a holster and all necessary ammunition for a fee of $25.  Talk with your instructor about whether handgun selection is discussed in the class.  If it is part of the class discussion, you may want to rent and learn more about good selection criteria prior to making a substantial investment in a handgun.  In general, some of the considerations for handgun selection include:

Purpose for the handgun (CCW, Target Shooting, Hunting, Cowboy Action, etc.)

Caliber (recoil vs. accuracy, stopping power, availability of ammunition)

Size/Fit issues (grip size, weight, physical dimensions)


Reliability  (high reliability is CRITICAL for CCW)

Cost  (handgun, ammunition, accessories)

Other factors  (night sights, compensated barrels, accessory rails, etc.)

How do I renew my permit when it expires?

The Arizona CCW permit is good for a period of 5 years from date of issuance.  After that you will have to submit a renewal by mail.  There is no training or re-qualification requirement.  If you address is current with the DPS, which it should be based on DPS rules, you will receive a renewal packet in the mail approximately 90 days before your permit expires.  You need to submit a renewal application, a new fingerprint card and your $65 fee in the form of a certified check or money order payable to the Arizona Department of Public Safety.  You should receive your new permit in the mail in just a few weeks.  If you wait more than 60 days past the expiration date of your original permit to submit your application, your information will be purged from the DPS database and you will get to take the 8 hour initial course over again if you want to keep your permit.

APDI gives a $10 discount to anyone who has allowed their permit to expire and that has to take the class over.  If you are an APDI alumnus, you can re-take the class for the cost of the range fee and fingerprinting alone ($15).  For more details you can call APDI at 480-607-5144 or visit the APDI website at http://www.armedpersonaldefense.com

Once I get my Arizona CCW Permit, then what?

What you do after the Arizona CCW Permit class is largely up to you.  For some, since it is the minimum training requirement, once they have their CCW permit, they are done.  You should understand that attending an Arizona CCW permit class and receiving your permit DOES NOT make you proficient in the use of your firearm.  It simply means that you have received some basic training on a broad range of topics that DPS wants you to be exposed to prior to the issuance of a permit. If you intend to carry a firearm on a daily basis for personal defense, you absolutely need to get additional training in the use of your firearm.

Training organizations like the Armed Personal Defense Institute (APDI) have a broad range of courses designed to provide basic, intermediate and advanced training in the use of your handgun.  A logical follow up class to the Arizona CCW permit class is APDI’s Advanced Concealed Carry course.  APDI focuses on providing the skills you need to prevail in a potentially lethal confrontation involving firearms.  For additional information on the courses offered by APDI and their content, send us an email or go to http://www.armedpersonaldefense.com

© Doug Little, Armed Personal Defense Institute, 2007-2011.

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