Arizona's private schools are free to allow concealed-carry licensees to carry guns on school premises


(FILES) This file photo taken on July 21, 2007 shows a man holding a Colt .45 semi-automatic pistol in Manassas, Virginia. A federal judge ruled May 17, 2016 that people seeking a permit to carry concealed firearms in the US capital no longer need to provide "good reason" for doing so. Judge Richard Leon ruled that the licensing screening is likely unconstitutional, a victory for gun rights advocates who favor loosening gun laws in the name of self-defense. Washington has traditionally had one of the most stringent laws in the country regarding concealed carry permits, requiring individuals to justify the need to carry a gun in public. / AFP PHOTO / KAREN BLEIERKAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images
(Photo by Karen Bleier/Agence France-Presse via Getty Images)

So says Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, in a formal opinion:

State and federal law do not prohibit an individual that holds an Arizona Concealed Carry Weapons Permit from carrying a concealed handgun on private school grounds in Arizona. Additionally, State and federal law permit individuals to possess firearms in school zones for use in a program approved by the private school….

Although [Arizona] law allows individuals to carry concealed without a permit, Arizona continues to offer [concealed carry licenses]. Licensure provides certain benefits to the individual, including reciprocity for concealed carry with other states. Per the Arizona Department of Public Safety, as of June 26, 2016, there were 273,186 active CCWs.

The Federal Gun Free School Zones Act ("GFSZA") 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 a school zone." … The GFSZA's prohibition against knowingly possessing a firearm in a school zone does not apply to the possession of a firearm "if the individual possessing the firearm is licensed to do so by the State in which the school zone is located … and the law of the State … requires that, before an individual obtains such a license, the law enforcement authorities of the State . . . verify that the individual is qualified under law to receive the license." Finally, the GFSZA's prohibition against knowingly possessing a firearm in a school zone also does not apply to possession of a firearm "by an individual for use in a program approved by a school in the school zone."

Under Arizona law, a person commits "misconduct involving weapons" by knowingly "possessing a deadly weapon on school grounds." … [But] Arizona law … includes exemptions for "[a] person specifically licensed, authorized or permitted pursuant to a statute of this state or of the United States," and possession of a "firearm for use on the school grounds in a program approved by a school."

[Footnote:] This opinion is limited to the question whether private schools may permit firearms on campus. It does not consider the extent to which such schools may choose to bar firearms as an exercise of their private property rights. See e.g. GeorgiaCarry.Org, Inc. v. Georgia, 687 F.3d 1244, 1264 (11th Cir. 2012) ("Quite simply, there is no constitutional infirmity when a private property owner exercises his, her, or its … right to control who may enter, and whether that invited guest can be armed.").

[Footnote:] Among other criteria, eligible applicants for an Arizona CCW must be twenty-one years of age or older (with some exceptions for nineteen and twenty year olds with military service), must not be under indictment for a felony offense, must not be a felon (with some exceptions for the conviction being set aside), must not suffer from mental illness, must not be a prohibited possessor pursuant to A.R.S. § 13-3101(A)(7) [which covers a few other narrow classes of people], and must complete a firearms safety training program ….

[Footnote:] Separate considerations may apply to public schools. See A.R.S. § 15-341(A)(23) (the governing board of a public school district shall "prescribe and enforce policies and procedures that prohibit a person from carrying or possessing a weapon on school grounds unless the person is a peace officer or has obtained specific authorization from the school administrator.").