Arizona includes machine guns in the definition of “prohibited weapon,” and prohibits anyone from knowingly manufacturing, possessing, transporting, selling, or transferring a prohibited weapon. However, this rule does not apply if the machine gun is possessed, manufactured, or transferred in compliance with federal law.1 Federal law prohibits the possession of newly manufactured machine guns, but generally allows machine guns to be registered so long as they were manufactured prior to May 19, 1986. Federal law also permits the transfer of machine guns lawfully owned prior to May 19, 1986 if the transfer is approved by ATF.
Arizona law addresses the transfers of firearms regulated by federal law, which includes machine guns, as discussed above. Arizona’s law provides that if a chief law enforcement officer’s certification is required to complete the transfer of such a firearm, the chief law enforcement officer shall, within 60 days of receiving a request for a certification, “provide the certification if the applicant is not prohibited by law from receiving the firearm or is not the subject of a proceeding that could result in the applicant being prohibited by law from receiving the firearm. If the chief law enforcement officer is unable to provide a certification as required by this section, the chief law enforcement officer shall notify the applicant, in writing, of the denial and the reason for this determination.”2 The law also allows the chief law enforcement officer to refer applicants who are requesting a certification required by federal law to the county sheriff. ((Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 13-3121(B).)
See Machine Guns & Automatic Firearms Policy Summary for for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.