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Summary of Arizona Law Changes Affecting Hunters


New legislation in 2012 has resulted in amended laws that hunters should be aware of. The amended laws took effect on August 2, 2012. In response to some inquiries we’ve received from our hunting customers, below is an overview of the changes.

The new legislation:

  • Eliminates restrictions on magazine capacity (except that federal regulations for migratory game birds still apply)
  • Allows the use of silencers (does not negate the need to comply with federal regulations relative to the possession and use of silencers)
  • Allows possession of weapons while hunting which are legal to possess, but not authorized for the taking of wildlife
  • Makes use of weapons not authorized for the taking of wildlife a class 1 misdemeanor
  • Eliminates restrictions on selling bighorn sheep parts

Summary of what’s different

Magazine Capacity

The newly passed legislation prohibits the Commission from limiting magazine capacity of firearms. In the past, the Commission had the authority to limit magazine capacity related to the take of wildlife. Please note that the federal regulations regarding magazine capacity for hunting migratory game birds, such as dove or waterfowl, still apply.

The amended law now reads as follows:

  • 17-231. General powers and duties of the commission.
  • The commission shall:
  • Establish hunting, trapping and fishing rules and prescribe the manner and methods that may be used in taking wildlife, but the commission shall not limit or restrict the magazine capacity of any authorized firearm.


Possessing silencers, or devices designed to muffle or minimize the report of a firearm, is no longer a violation of statute, which was previously the case. A new section was added to the law, allowing the use of silencers while hunting. Please note that this section does not limit the Commission’s authority to prescribe the type and caliber of firearm or ammo that may be used for taking wildlife, and includes a definition of “firearm silencer.”

The amended law now reads as follows:

  • 17-251. Possession or use of a firearm silencer or muffler while hunting; definition.
    • The commission shall not adopt or enforce any rule that prohibits the lawful possession or use of a firearm silencer or muffler, including for the taking of wildlife or while hunting.
    • This section does not limit the authority of the commission to prescribe the type and caliber of firearm or ammunition that may be used for taking wildlife.
    • For the purposes of this section, “firearm silencer or muffler” means any device that is designed, made or adapted to muffle the report of a firearm.

Possessing Legal Weapons not Authorized for Taking Wildlife

Hunters may now possess weapons, ammo, magazines, or devices which are not authorized for taking wildlife as long as they do not use those items to take wildlife. Additionally, using weapons which are not authorized for the taking of wildlife is a class 1 misdemeanor.

The amended law now reads as follows:

  • 17-305. Possession of other weapons while hunting; violation; classification.
    • The possession of legal weapons, devices, ammunition or magazines, which are not authorized to take wildlife, is not prohibited while hunting if the weapon or device is not used to take wildlife.
    • Taking wildlife by using a weapon, device, ammunition or magazine that is not authorized to take wildlife is a class 1 misdemeanor.

Sale of Bighorn Sheep Parts

It is no longer unlawful to sell the heads, horns, hides, feet or skin of bighorn sheep taken after October 2005; there is no longer a provision allowing only the department to sell bighorn sheep parts under certain circumstances.

  • The amended law strikes 17-371.E.2, which stated: “It is unlawful to sell the heads, horns, hides, feet or skin of bighorn sheep taken on or after October 1, 2005, but the department may sell heads, horns, hides, feet or skin of bighorn sheep that were illegally taken and confiscated by or donated to the department.” That law is no longer in effect.

Aligning Game and Fish Rules with State Laws

The changes in the state laws above have resulted in temporary inconsistencies between certain Arizona Revised Statutes and Arizona Game and Fish Laws and Rules. In those cases, the new state laws pre-empt the Game and Fish rules. These inconsistencies will be resolved in the near future when the final rulemaking process is complete for Game and Fish Article 3 Rules. The new Game and Fish rules will be in alignment with the legislative changes.




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