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Gun Laws on Indian Reservation

NOTE: Here is a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in May 2021 established that tribal police officers possess the power to temporarily detain and conduct searches on non-Indian individuals who are traveling on public rights-of-way within a reservation. This authority is granted in order to address potential violations of state or federal law.

What Are The Gun Laws on Indian Reservations?

The Federal Government maintains a list of approximately 800 Native American Tribes. However, the majority of these tribes do not have their laws available online. Out of the tribes I have researched, some have regulations pertaining to the carrying or possession of firearms on tribal land.

It is important to note that tribal law solely applies to individuals residing within the reservation. If you possess a valid permit or license for carrying a firearm in the state where the reservation is located, that permit or license may not hold validity within the reservation boundaries. In such cases, tribal authorities may confiscate the firearm and advise you to seek resolution through Tribal Court. While some tribes allow carrying firearms on state roads that pass through the reservation, others have ordinances prohibiting the possession of firearms in vehicles or on reservation roads.

In most instances, Tribal Police closely collaborate with local law enforcement agencies surrounding the reservation. If you are found to be in violation of state firearms laws, you will likely be detained and the local authorities will be contacted.

It is recommends that, before carrying a firearm on any reservation, it is crucial to engage in direct communication with the responsible authorities and preferably obtain written confirmation of the validity of your permit or license on their specific reservation. Alternatively, it is advised to keep the firearm unloaded and securely stored in the trunk or a locked container in the rear of a vehicle lacking a trunk.

The good folks at handgunlaw.us provide links for each states gun laws for the Indian Reservations.

Arizona Indian Reservation Gun Laws

In Arizona, individuals are permitted to openly and discreetly carry handguns without a permit under the state’s gun laws. However, the regulations concerning firearms differ considerably within the numerous Indian reservations in the state as stated previously above.

Arizona’s state statutes typically emphasize uniformity. They prohibit cities, towns, and counties from implementing regulations that exceed the restrictions outlined in the state statutes. Although Governor Jan Brewer recently vetoed a bill that aimed to grant citizens the right to sue for violations of Arizona’s gun laws, municipalities generally refrain from challenging the state’s authority in matters concerning gun legislation.

Nevertheless, within Arizona’s state borders, there exist extensive federal lands designated for Indian nations, encompassing thousands of acres. The regulations pertaining to gun ownership on these reservations differ significantly. When present on reservation land, the laws specific to that reservation take effect.

As stated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, federally recognized tribes hold inherent rights of self-government, granting them sovereignty to enact legislation regarding firearms. Therefore, it is prudent to thoroughly review tribal regulations before entering a reservation with a firearm, as these rules supersede Arizona’s gun laws.

Arizona Specific Indian Reservations

Arizona is home to 22 Indian tribes, which collectively possess about a quarter of the state’s land. Here are some examples of regulations found on several prominent reservations:

Navajo Nation: According to HandgunLaw.us, carrying a deadly weapon, including a firearm, is prohibited within the Navajo Nation.

Tohono O’odham Nation: The Tohono O’odham Nation prohibits the concealed carry of weapons on a person or in a vehicle. Additionally, it is illegal to discharge a firearm within a quarter-mile radius of an occupied residence within the reservation.

Hopi Tribe: The Hopi Indian Tribe mandates a permit, issued by the judge of the Hopi Trial Court and the reservation superintendent, for the concealed carry of handguns.

White Mountain Apache Tribe: On the White Mountain Apache Tribe Reservation, carrying a concealed weapon is illegal unless authorized by the tribal government, state government, or the United States government. A permit is required for concealed carry.

This article does not constitute legal advice. Check the current gun laws before purchasing or traveling with a firearm. Do your due diligence to research any gun law’s and regulations. 

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