CCW Rules You Didn't Think Of
November 1, 2020
In Other Words, Know Before You Go
If you have taken a Concealed Carry class and have gotten your permit, congratulations! Now you need to start thinking about what that permit does and doesn't do for you. Within Arizona, there are still many places where you cannot legally carry a firearm, even with a permit. As for travel, well -- Native American Reservations, National Forests and Parks, and other states have different rules, even within your home state.
I'll try to cover some of those rules, but be aware that laws change all the time. If you plan to travel, make sure you know the law. One of the best ways to make sure you're informed is to get yourself some Self Defense Insurance.
Much of the following information comes from the usconcealedcarry.com website. I highly recommend them or uslawshield.com for insurance and information. If you have an Arizona concealed carry permit, you are still NOT allowed to carry in California, Oregon, Washington State, Minnesota, Illinois, New York, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Maryland, New York City, Maine, Connecticut, or Washington DC.
Furthermore, there are restrictions as to how and when you can carry in Colorado, Michigan, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Florida. It's up to you to know the laws for any state you are visiting or even passing through. In the states that allow you to carry, this only applies if you have a CCW permit.
What About A Mask?
A lot of people are wondering about concealed carry while wearing a mask. I actually did some research and in Arizona, it is NOT illegal to carry a firearm while wearing a mask. However, wearing a mask while committing a crime may be considered an aggravating circumstance.
You Can Get Into Trouble
In Arizona if you are 21 and legally allowed to possess a firearm, you can carry concealed without a permit. We are also a Castle Doctrine state and are allowed to stand our ground. This means you don't have a duty to retreat before defending yourself if you are someplace you are legally allowed to be and you're not committing a crime.
You should definitely look up the laws about use of force and use of deadly force, because you can get in big trouble if you make a mistake here. I can't stress this enough. PLEASE know when you legally can or cannot threaten or use force and deadly force.
Best Bet: Have A Permit
If you have a CCW Permit, you can legally carry a firearm in a bar or a restaurant that serves alcohol (unless posted), but you CANNOT drink alcohol. USCCA says that one Arizona statute says that no permit is required to carry in such places, while two others say that a permit IS required. Your best bet is to have a permit.
Where You Can
In Arizona if you have a permit, you can carry a firearm in national forests – if you don't, you can't. Even if you do NOT have a CCW permit, you can even carry a concealed firearm in the unsecured areas of the airport terminals. And yes, you can carry in church unless your church has it posted that you can't.
Where You Can't
Now for the places where you CANNOT carry a concealed weapon: You can't carry on the grounds of any public school if you don't have a CCW permit. If you do have a permit, your handgun needs to be unloaded before you enter school grounds, and if you have to leave your vehicle, the gun needs to be unloaded and secured out of sight.
Just so you know, according to the Federal Gun-Free School Zones Act, if you don't have a CCW permit, you are not even allowed to carry a weapon within 1000 feet of a school, which means streets and sidewalks, and even neighborhoods. For me, even my backyard is within 1000 feet of a school!
Even It You Have A Permit
Also, even if you have a permit, you can't carry at any place or event where you are requested not to carry. Cities and counties are supposed to have on-site storage if they ban weapons, but not all of them do. I know when I was on jury duty, we all had to go through a metal detector and no weapons were allowed inside the building. I don't know if they had a place to store weapons because I didn't carry one that day. You are also not allowed to carry at polling places on election day, or in nuclear or hydroelectric generating stations.
You CANNOT carry at any public college or university except in a locked and privately owned vehicle or in a locked compartment on a privately owned motorcycle. If a liquor store has a sign forbidding weapons, you can't legally carry there either. Also jails, game preserves, secure areas of airports, and any place where carrying a firearm is forbidden by federal or state law. That's a lot of places!
Indian reservations are difficult to figure out. I know that you can't carry ON the reservation, and your permit means nothing to them, but I wasn't able to get a clear understanding on whether the federal or state highway going THROUGH a reservation was actually reservation property.
Fact is, reservations are considered sovereign states, and any legal issues you have with them will not be heard in a state court. Also, all reservations have their own rules, and yes, they can stop you on a highway that is going through their land. It is difficult, if not impossible, to get a written list of regulations from them.
Your best bet is to stay on interstate highways where you're more likely to be pulled over by the Highway Patrol. My recommendation is to completely avoid going onto reservation land at all. This is difficult to impossible in Arizona, so if you do have to cross a reservation, stay on the interstate or state highway, and before you cross that border, unload your gun and lock it up. If possible, lock the ammo in a separate lock box. And mind your P's and Q's so no one has a reason to pull you over. Your CCW permit is a useless piece of paper on the reservation.
Phoenix has a lot of parks with signs saying that possession of a firearm in the park is limited to those with a permit. Also, when you buy a new firearm it's so much more streamlined when you can just hand them your permit. Fill out the paperwork and you're good to go.
Now for Mexico. The US Department of State says don't try taking a gun into Mexico without prior written permission from Mexican authorities. The penalty for doing so can be up to five years in prison. Mexican prison.
If you are a hunter, it is legal to bring your hunting weapon into Mexico with the right paperwork, but honestly, in my opinion, it's just safer and a lot easier to make reservations with a Mexican guide service that provides the weapon you will need for your hunt. Have them supply any hunting dogs needed as well. A good guide service will know all the rules about bringing your game back to the States, and will just make things easier all around.
I've been to Mexico a few times for bass fishing, and we've had our boats and vehicles thoroughly searched more than once.
Arm Yourself With Information
Having a Concealed Weapons Permit has a lot of advantages, even in a Free State like Arizona. But, please do not take everything I say as gospel – you need to arm yourself with information. Check out the azdps.gov website to find out more about getting a permit. And before you travel, make sure you check ahead of time for the latest laws of any state you will be visiting or passing through – and reservations also, if you can. Stay strong and stay safe!