Firearm Prohibitions and Notification for Domestic Violence Misdemeanants
Arizona only prohibits possession of a firearm by a person convicted of a domestic violence offense while the person is serving a term of probation for that conviction.1 A “domestic violence offense” is defined to include certain violent crimes against many current and former household and family members. In 2009, Arizona adopted “Kaity’s Law,” which extended this definition to include situations where the victim and the defendant are, or were previously, in a significant romantic or sexual relationship, as determined by a set of factors.2
Federal law also prohibits the purchase and possession of firearms and ammunition by certain domestic misdemeanants.
Firearm Prohibitions and Notification for Persons Subject to Domestic Violence Protective Orders
Arizona law authorizes a court that is issuing a protective order against domestic violence (as defined above) to prohibit the defendant from possessing or purchasing a firearm for the duration of the order if the court finds that the defendant is a credible threat to the physical safety of the plaintiff or other specifically designated persons.3
A court may issue an ex parte emergency order of protection against domestic violence if a peace officer states that the officer has reasonable grounds to believe that a person is in immediate and present danger of domestic violence based on an allegation of a recent incident of actual domestic violence. If the court finds that the defendant may inflict bodily injury or death on the plaintiff, the defendant may be prohibited from possessing or purchasing a firearm for the duration of the emergency order.4
Federal law also prohibits the purchase and possession of firearms and ammunition by persons subject to certain domestic violence protection orders, although the federal law does not extend to ex parte orders.
Surrender of Firearms When a Protective Order Is Issued
In Arizona, if a court that is issuing a final domestic violence protective order (not an emergency order) prohibits the defendant from possessing a firearm, the court must also order the defendant to transfer any firearm owned or possessed by the defendant immediately after service of the order to the appropriate law enforcement agency for the duration of the order. If the defendant does not immediately transfer the firearm, the defendant shall transfer the firearm within 24 hours after service of the order.5
Removal of Firearms at the Scene of a Domestic Violence Incident
In Arizona, a peace officer arresting someone at the scene of a domestic violence incident may question the persons who are present to determine if a firearm is present.6 On learning or observing that a firearm is present, the peace officer may temporarily seize the firearm if it is in plain view or was found pursuant to a consensual search and if the officer reasonably believes that the firearm would expose the victim or another person in the household to a risk of serious bodily injury or death. The peace officer must give the owner a receipt indicating the firearm’s serial number or other identifying characteristic. The firearm must be held for at least 72 hours by the law enforcement agency that seized it.7
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- Ariz. Rev. Stat. §§ 13-3101(A)(7)(d), 13-3102(A)(4).
- Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 13-3601.
- Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 13-3602(G)(4).
- Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 13-3624.
- Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 13-3602(G)(4).
- Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 13-3601(C)-(F).
- Id. A peace officer must then notify the victim before the firearm is released from custody. If there is reasonable cause to believe that returning a firearm may endanger the victim, the person who reported the assault or threat or another person in the household, the prosecutor must file in a court a notice of intent to retain the firearm. The notice must state that the firearm will be retained for no more than six months following the seizure. The owner may request a hearing for the return of the firearm, to dispute the grounds for seizure or to request an earlier return date. The court must hold the hearing within ten days after the request. At the hearing, unless the court determines that the return of the firearm may endanger the victim, the person who reported the assault or threat or another person in the household, the court must order the return of the firearm. Id.