State Right to Bear Arms in Arizona

Posted on January 3, 2012

Last Updated June 28, 2010

Article II, § 26 of the Arizona Constitution states: “The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself or the State shall not be impaired, but nothing in this section shall be construed as authorizing individuals or corporations to organize, maintain, or employ an armed body of men.” In addition, Arizona Revised Statutes § 12-714 states that the legislature has found that “[t]he citizens of this state have the right, under . . . article II, § 26 of the Arizona Constitution, to keep and bear arms.”

Arizona courts have held that the constitutional right to “bear arms” is qualified and subject to reasonable regulation by the state in its exercise of police power. In Dano v. Collins, the Arizona Court of Appeals rejected an article II, § 26 challenge to a state statute, Arizona Revised Statutes § 13-3102(A)(1), (2), which at that time prohibited the carrying of concealed weapons.1 The court noted that article II, § 26 does not grant “an absolute right to bear arms under all situations,” and emphasized that an individual’s right to bear arms in self-defense must be balanced with the state’s duty, under its police power, to make reasonable regulations to protect the health, safety and welfare of its citizens.2

Similarly, in State v. Moerman, the court rejected an article II, § 26 challenge to the former ban on concealed weapons, holding that the right to bear arms is not absolute but qualified, and the ban “regulates only the manner in which individuals may exercise their right to bear arms. . .” The court stated that, while the ban “may limit this right, it neither frustrates nor impairs it.”3

The Attorney General of Arizona has opined that section 13-3112, which at that time required persons to attend a training class and obtain a concealed weapons permit before carrying a concealed weapon, also does not infringe on the right to bear arms.4

In State v. Noel, the court held a statute prohibiting a felon from possessing a pistol does not violate article II, § 26.5 Citing Noel, the Supreme Court of Arizona, in State v. Rascon, held that prohibiting a convicted felon from having a firearm under his or her control as a condition of probation does not violate the right to bear arms.6

Lastly, in City of Tucson v. Rineer, the court rejected an article II, § 26 challenge to an ordinance that prohibited the use or possession of firearms within city parks, holding that the ordinance was a reasonable exercise of a city’s police power.7

  1. 802 P.2d 1021 (Ariz. Ct. App. 1990). []
  2. Dano, 802 P.2d at 1022-24. []
  3. 895 P.2d 1018, 1022 (Ariz. Ct. App. 1994). []
  4. Op. Ariz. Att’y Gen. I98-005, 1998 Ariz. AG LEXIS 5 (July 8, 1998). []
  5. 414 P.2d 162 (Ariz. Ct. App. 1966). []
  6. 519 P.2d 37 (Ariz. 1974). []
  7. 971 P.2d 207 (Ariz. Ct. App. 1998). []