Illegal Firearm Possession and Prohibited Weapons in Arizona

illegal firearm possession in Arizona

In Arizona, ARS § 13-3101 categorizes certain firearms and explosive devices as prohibited, and owning these can lead to serious legal consequences. 


This applies to everyone, not just individuals identified as prohibited possessors due to reasons like felony convictions or mental health issues.


Possession of these prohibited firearms can result in criminal charges, including potential imprisonment and fines, with the severity based on the offense’s classification. Prohibited possessors face even stricter penalties if found with any firearm.


Criminal defense firms like Kolsrud Law Offices are essential in providing guidance and representation for individuals facing these issues, ensuring their rights are upheld and offering support through the legal process.

prohibited explosive device under arizona law

ARS § 13-3101 and ARS § 13-3102: Firearm Law

Arizona's legal framework for firearms is detailed in ARS § 13-3101 and ARS § 13-3102.


These statutes provide definitions and regulations regarding firearms, weapons, and related Arizona gun crimes.


  • Definition of 'Firearm': ARS § 13-3101 defines a firearm as any loaded or unloaded handgun, pistol, revolver, rifle, shotgun, or other weapons that can expel, is designed to expel, or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive. The definition excludes firearms in permanently inoperable conditions.
  • Prohibited Weapons: Under ARS § 13-3101, prohibited weapons include bombs, grenades, devices designed to muffle the report of a firearm, firearms capable of shooting more than one shot automatically without manual reloading by a single trigger function, and certain types of rifles and shotguns with specific barrel lengths. Also included are items like improvised explosive devices and containers with flammable liquids designed to be ignited.
  • Prohibited Possessors: The statute defines "prohibited possessor" as individuals who are barred from owning firearms. This includes those adjudicated as a danger to self or others, convicted felons, those serving terms of imprisonment, and certain nonimmigrant aliens under specific conditions.
  • Firearm Misconduct: ARS § 13-3102 focuses on misconduct involving weapons. It outlines unlawful acts such as carrying a deadly weapon in certain circumstances, possessing a weapon if one is a prohibited possessor, and other misconduct involving firearms.

Understanding the state's firearm statutes is highly beneficial for individuals who own, are considering owning, or are involved with firearms in Arizona. 

Contact us today to schedule a
how we can help you.

Prohibited Firearms in Arizona

Arizona law, specifically under ARS § 13-3101, outlines a detailed list of firearms and weapons that are prohibited in the state.


Weapons Include:


  • Automatic Firearms: Firearms capable of shooting more than one shot automatically, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger are prohibited.
  • Short-Barreled Rifles and Shotguns: A rifle with a barrel length of less than sixteen inches or a shotgun with a barrel length of less than eighteen inches. Additionally, any firearm made from a rifle or shotgun that, as modified, has an overall length of less than twenty-six inches is prohibited.
  • Mufflers and Silencers: Devices that are designed, made, or adapted to muffle the report of a firearm are prohibited.
  • Explosive Weapons: Items such as bombs, grenades, rockets with a propellant charge of more than four ounces, or mines that are explosive, incendiary, or poison gas.
  • Improvised Explosive Devices: Any device that incorporates explosives or destructive, lethal, noxious, pyrotechnic, or incendiary chemicals designed to destroy, disfigure, terrify, or harass.
  • Other Prohibited Items: This includes breakable containers containing a flammable liquid with a flash point of 150 degrees Fahrenheit or less with a wick or similar device capable of being ignited, as well as certain combinations of chemicals and materials designed for explosive purposes.

These prohibitions are designed to enhance public safety and ensure that certain high-risk firearms and devices are not in circulation. 

caught by cops for a prohibited weapon

What Happens if I'm Caught With a Prohibited Weapon

If you are caught with a prohibited weapon in Arizona, the legal consequences can be severe, as detailed in the Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) § 13-3102. The specific penalties you may face depend on the nature of the offense and your criminal history.


  1. Classifications of the Offense: Being found in possession of a prohibited weapon can result in various charges under ARS § 13-3102. This includes manufacturing, possessing, transporting, selling, or transferring a prohibited weapon, or being a prohibited possessor in possession of a deadly or prohibited weapon.
  2. Severity of Penalties:
    • Possession of a prohibited weapon is classified as a Class 4 felony, which can lead to significant penalties, including imprisonment. First-time offenders may face incarceration of up to 3.75 years.
    • If the offense involves transferring or selling a deadly weapon to a prohibited user or possessor, it's classified as a Class 6 felony.
    • Further, any offense involving the use of a weapon in a crime, whether the offender is a prohibited possessor or not, is considered an aggravating factor. This can lead to the offense being classified as a Class 4 felony or higher, depending on the criminal offense for which the weapon was used.
  3. Additional Consequences: Beyond imprisonment and fines, being convicted of such offenses can lead to a loss of civil rights and other long-term consequences, including difficulties in securing employment, housing, and other social services.

Given the serious nature of these offenses, it is highly advisable to seek legal counsel if you find yourself in such a situation.


An experienced attorney can provide you with advice specific to your case, help you understand the charges against you, and represent you in legal proceedings.

Prohibited Possessors: Understanding Restrictions Under Arizona Law

In Arizona, ARS § 13-3101 sets forth specific categories of individuals who are legally restricted from possessing firearms. 


This includes those with certain mental health conditions deemed a danger to themselves or others, convicted felons whose rights have not been restored, and individuals currently serving prison sentences. 


Also included are those on probation for serious offenses, undocumented and some nonimmigrant aliens, individuals judged incompetent, and those found guilty except insane.


These laws aim to enhance public safety by preventing firearm access to high-risk individuals. 

Restoring Gun Rights in Arizona

Restoring firearm rights in Arizona is a legal process that varies depending on the nature of the offense and the individual's criminal history.


Here's an overview of the key steps and considerations:


  1. Eligibility Criteria: The eligibility to restore gun rights depends on the severity and nature of the felony.

    • Non-Serious Felonies: For non-serious felonies, individuals can apply for restoration of their firearm rights two years after completing their sentence.
    • Serious Offenses: Those convicted of serious offenses must wait ten years after completing their sentence to apply for restoration.
    • Dangerous Offenses: Individuals convicted of dangerous offenses, typically involving violence or the use of a deadly weapon, are generally ineligible for restoration of firearm rights.
  2. The Restoration Process:

    • Set Aside Application: A set aside application can be filed in the court where the conviction occurred. This is applicable immediately after the criminal case concludes for non-serious felonies and misdemeanor domestic violence.
    • Firearms Rights Restoration Application: This is required for individuals not eligible for a set aside or those who have waited the mandatory period post their sentence completion. It must be filed with the same court that issued the conviction.
    • Documentation and Application: The application generally includes detailed information about the individual's criminal history, efforts towards rehabilitation, and reasons for seeking the restoration of their rights.
    • Court Review and Hearing: The court will review the application and may schedule a hearing to assess the individual's suitability for firearm ownership.
  3. Legal Assistance: Given the complexities of the process, consulting with experienced attorneys specializing in firearms law or rights restoration can provide valuable insights and assistance.
  4. Important Notes:

    • Permanent Ineligibility: Individuals convicted of federal offenses or certain dangerous offenses may face permanent loss of their gun rights.
    • Pardons: As a last resort, applying for a Governor’s Pardon in Arizona or a federal Presidential Pardon can be an option, although these are rarely granted.

For more detailed guidance and specific forms, it's advisable to refer to the official resources provided by the Arizona Judicial Branch and consult with a legal expert specializing in firearm laws and rights restoration in Arizona.

firearm faq

Frequently Asked Questions about Arizona's Firearm Laws

  • What are the restrictions on possessing automatic firearms in Arizona?

    • In Arizona, possession of automatic firearms, defined as firearms capable of firing more than one shot automatically without manual reloading, is generally prohibited under both state and federal law. These firearms are classified under the prohibited weapons category in ARS § 13-3101.

  • Can a convicted felon legally possess a firearm in Arizona?

    • Convicted felons are prohibited from possessing firearms in Arizona. This restriction applies until their civil rights, including the right to bear arms, are legally restored, a process that can vary depending on the nature of the felony.

  • Are there specific regulations on the barrel length of rifles and shotguns in Arizona?

    • Yes, Arizona law prohibits rifles with a barrel length of fewer than 16 inches and shotguns with a barrel length of less than 18 inches. Firearms modified to an overall length of fewer than 26 inches also fall under prohibited weapons.

  • What are the penalties for illegal possession of a firearm in Arizona?

    • The penalties for illegal possession of firearms can range from fines to imprisonment, depending on the nature of the violation. Possession of a prohibited firearm is typically classified as a felony, with penalties increasing with the severity of the offense.

  • Is there a minimum age requirement for legally possessing firearms in Arizona?

    • Yes, individuals must be at least 21 years old to legally possess a firearm in Arizona. This age requirement is in line with federal regulations for purchasing handguns from licensed dealers.

  • What are the laws regarding carrying a firearm in Arizona for those who are not prohibited possessors?

    • Arizona law allows for the open carry of firearms and also has permissive concealed carry laws. However, carrying a firearm in certain places, like schools and government buildings, is restricted, and private property owners can also prohibit firearms on their premises.

How a Criminal Defense Attorney From Kolsrud Law Offices Can Assist You

If you're dealing with criminal charges in Arizona, particularly those related to firearms, Kolsrud Law Offices can offer you dedicated legal assistance. Their team specializes in criminal defense, providing valuable expertise to help you with your case.


They focus on understanding the unique aspects of your situation, offering legal guidance and representation. Their role extends beyond the courtroom, as they assist in all stages of the legal process and offer practical advice for managing the impacts of the charges on your life.


Kolsrud Law Offices prioritizes protecting your rights and aims to achieve the best possible outcome for your case.


For those interested, Kolsrud Law Offices offers a free consultation. You can reach us at:

An award-winning criminal defense attorney Since 2006

Why Choose Josh Kolsrud

With over 100 trials to his name, and years of experience as a state and federal prosecutor, Josh understands the law, the legal process, and your rights. Josh is also committed to representing every client with utmost integrity and dedication



Josh has prosecuted major crimes on the state and federal level, led a successful anti-human sex trafficking operation that saved lives, and argued before countless juries and justices for his clients



Josh is an expert in both Arizona and federal criminal law, and is ready to put that expertise to work for you.



As a prosecutor, Josh saw far too many defendants lose their livelihood due to poor representation. Josh will always give every client his complete attention and effort

Get a Free Initial Consultation:

Complete our form below to get a free case review.
or call us at (480) 999-9444.