New Arizona Gun Laws Effective September 30th 2009

New Arizona Gun Laws Effective September 30th 2009

Arizona Citizens Defense League
Arizona Citizens Defense League

Arizona –-( the focus almost entirely on the budget this session, very little time was spent on other legislation, and there was a mad rush to end the session and filter out as many non-budget bills as possible. Grassroots pressure via emails, letters and phone calls kept pro-rights bills moving. Eventually a number of pro-rights bills were sent to, and signed by, the Governor. The following laws became effective on September 30, 2009.

Restaurant Carry
A limited Restaurant Carry bill was passed, laden with amendments that reduced opposition to the legislation. Not all the changes were beneficial to law-abiding gun owners. In the final version:

  • • Only individuals with CCW permits may carry a firearm where alcohol is served.
  • • Only concealed firearms are allowed in places serving alcohol.
  • • The individual legally carrying the firearm may not consume alcohol.
  • • Establishments may prohibit firearms by posting a sign in a specified location.
  • • The penalty for violating the law is a class 3 misdemeanor.
  • • It is an “affirmative defense” (in court, after being arrested) if the person violating the law “was not informed of the notice,” the sign had “fallen down,” the person is not a resident of Arizona, or the posted sign has not been up for 30 days.
  • • Lack of knowledge that firearms are prohibited in establishments serving alcohol is no longer a valid defense.

Just because you don’t see a “No Firearms” sign near the front door of an establishment that serves alcohol doesn’t mean you are welcome. The law requires that the sign is posted near the liquor license, not as you enter the business. And, under the new law, lack of knowledge that you are breaking the law, is not a valid defense. On the other hand, the required concealed handgun is by definition, not noticeable either. Makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it? Specifics of the new Restaurant Carry law can be found in ARS 4-229.

Defensive Display
This is the AzCDL-requested legislation that clarifies when the defensive display of a firearm is justified. Defensive display of a firearm includes the following:

  • • Verbally informing another person that the person possesses a firearm or has one available.
  • • Exposing or displaying a firearm in a manner that a reasonable person would understand was meant to protect the person against another’s use or attempted use of unlawful physical force or deadly physical force.
  • • Placing the person’s hand on a firearm that is contained in a pocket, purse or other means of containment or transport.

The new law (ARS 13-421) also establishes that there is no requirement for the defensive display of a firearm before the use of physical force, or the threat of physical force, by a person who is otherwise justified in the use or threatened use of physical force.

Parking Lot Exemption
This new law (ARS 12-781) prevents any private or public employer, property owner, etc., from banning any person from keeping a firearm in a locked vehicle in a parking area on the property, with specific limited exceptions.

School Marksmanship Program
Persons certified by a “national association of firearms owners” (e.g., NRA) have been added to the list of persons qualified to be an Arizona Gun Safety Program Course instructor. Currently, instructors may only be certified by the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

Retroactive Self-Defense Clarification
The restoration of the “innocent until proven guilty” language, that passed out of the Legislature via SB 1145 in 2006, is retroactively applied to cases pending at the time of SB 1145’s passage.

The most egregious of these was the trial of Harold Fish, who was hiking in Coconino County when a man with a violent history and his two dogs attacked him. Mr. Fish was forced to fire at his attacker, killing him.

What Mr. Fish did not know, and could not know, was the violent history of his attacker. A history, among many other facts of the case, that the judge and prosecutor would not allow in court for the jury to consider.

Before Mr. Fish’s trial, the Arizona Legislature returned the law from “guilty until proven innocent”, back to “innocent until proven guilty” in self defense cases. Unfortunately, the trial was conducted under the old law and Mr. Fish was convicted. You can read more about this case at:

AzCDL believes that the emphasis of gun laws should be on criminal misuse and that law-abiding citizens should be able to own and carry firearms unaffected by unnecessary laws or regulations. AzCDL was founded by a group of local activists who recognized that a sustained, coordinated, statewide effort was critical to protecting and expanding the rights of law-abiding gun owners. As a like-minded coalition of activists, the AzCDL founders were instrumental in the successful passage of the first major improvement to Arizona’s CCW (concealed carry) laws since they were instituted in 1994.