Does an AZ CCW Allow You to Carry a Firearm on School Grounds?

I’ve seen it touted on Facebook, discussed by shooters at the range, and even advertised as a perk by a CCW instructor!

But it’s just plain false. You cannot carry your firearm (“carry” as in loaded and on your person) on school grounds.

Many, including the unnamed instructor, cling to ARS 13-3102, Subsection C, Paragraph 4 as the justifying statute.

Subsection C, reads as follows:
“C. Subsection A, paragraphs 2, 3, 7, 10, 11, 12 and 13 of this section shall not apply to:

  1. A peace officer or any person summoned by any peace officer to assist and while actually assisting in the performance of official duties; or
  2. A member of the military forces of the United States or of any state of the United States in the performance of official duties; or
  3. A warden, deputy warden, community correctional officer, detention officer, special investigator or correctional officer of the state department of corrections or the department of juvenile corrections; or
  4. A person specifically licensed, authorized or permitted pursuant to a statute of this state or of the United States.”

If that was true, and this Subsection and paragraph does justify it, than a CCW would also allow one to do the following:

  1. Carry concealed under age 21 (Subsection A, Paragraph 2)
  2. Manufacture, possess, transport, sell, or transfer prohibited weapons. (Subsection A, Paragraph 3)
  3. Posses a defaced deadly weapon. (Subsection A, Paragraph 7)
  4. Carry in government buildings. (Subsection A, Paragraph 10)
  5. Carry in a polling place. (Subsection A, Paragraph 11).
  6. Carry on school grounds (Subsection A, Paragraph 12).
  7. Carry in a nuclear or hydroelectric generating station. (Subsection A, Paragraph 13)

None of the other circumstances listed are authorized with a CCW under this statute. Everyone agrees on this. Further, no part of any of CCW license material, DPS FAQ or informational flyers/brochures, or ARS 13-3112 “specifically authorize” such conduct. ARS 13-3112 governs CCW Permits and nowhere in that statute will you find the justification to carry on school grounds if one has a CCW. In fact, DPS expressly states the law forbids carrying a loaded gun on school grounds in their FAQ.

I HAVE A CCW PERMIT; CAN I CARRY MY HANDGUN ON SCHOOL GROUNDS WHILE PICKING UP MY CHILD?

Conditionally. If you remain in your vehicle and the handgun is unloaded before entering school grounds, yes. If you have to exit your vehicle while picking up your child, the handgun must be unloaded (as above) and secured (locked) within the vehicle out of plain view. Use caution if you must exit the vehicle with a handgun (or any weapon) to secure it in the trunk of your vehicle. Others may see you and not understand your intention.

https://www.azdps.gov/services/public/cwp

In another part of ARS 13-3102 it states:

I. Subsection A, paragraph 12 of this section shall not apply to the possession of a:

1. Firearm that is not loaded and that is carried within a means of transportation under the control of an adult provided that if the adult leaves the means of transportation the firearm shall not be visible from the outside of the means of transportation and the means of transportation shall be locked.

2. Firearm for use on the school grounds in a program approved by a school.

3. Firearm by a person who possesses a certificate of firearms proficiency pursuant to section 13-3112, subsection T and who is authorized to carry a concealed firearm pursuant to the law enforcement officers safety act of 2004 (P.L. 108-277; 118 Stat. 865; 18 United States Code sections 926B and 926C).

ARS 13-3102, Subsection I

It cites ARS 13-3112 Subsection T which only applies to Active and Retired Law Enforcement Officers as governed by the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act of 2004. Therefore, it does not apply to CCW Permit Holders.

The Federal Gun Free School Zones Act (18 U.S.C. § 922(q)(2)(A)) makes it unlawful for any individual knowingly to possess a firearm that has moved in or that otherwise affects interstate or foreign commerce at a place that the individual knows, or has reasonable cause to believe is within a distance of 1,000 from the grounds of a public, parochial or private school. This Federal Law does exempt CCW Holders from the 1000 ft school zone restriction, however, does not permit CCW holders to carry firearms on the grounds of a school.

What is the legal definition of a loaded firearm in Arizona?

“The Arizona Legislature having chosen not to give “loaded” a technical meaning, the commonsense “containing ammunition” is the term’s most logical interpretation.”

State v. Johnson, 401 P.3d 504 (Ariz. Ct. App. 2017)

Therefore, even a firearm with an empty chamber can be considered loaded if the firearm contains ammunition. So, if, like in the case cited above, one has a loaded magazine inserted into a firearm, but no round in the chamber, it is still considered a loaded firearm in Arizona.

A CCW quite simply doesn’t allow one to carry their firearm onto the grounds of a school. Though you may have an unloaded firearm, without even a loaded magazine in the gun, in your vehicle, provided if you leave the vehicle the firearm remain unloaded and locked, out of sight, inside the vehicle. I’d hardly call that carrying a firearm.