Firearms and Community Members on GRIC
Lt. Jason Figueroa #1286
Gila River Police
The Gila River Police Department has recently received a number of questions about Community Members’ rights and responsibilities while owning and carrying firearms on the GRIC. Here are some answers to some of the most common questions we get on this topic:
-Can Community Members legally own and possess firearms on the GRIC?
The GRIC Community Council has not passed any laws which make it illegal for Community Members to own or possess firearms on the GRIC. However, as a sovereign nation, the Council could choose to do so in the future.
-When is it illegal for a Community Member to own or possess a firearm on the GRIC?
Some things make it nearly permanently illegal for a Community Member to own or possess a firearm. Some examples of this are being convicted of a felony in tribal, state, or federal courts, being convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence in tribal, state, or federal courts, and being dishonorably discharged from the United States Armed Forces.
Other things make it temporarily illegal to own or possess a firearm. Some examples are being the subject of a domestic violence order of protection (the order is against you), being on terms of release from a court which prohibit you from having firearms (including some kinds of probation for misdemeanor crimes) and being adjudicated as mentally incompetent by a judge.
Additionally, if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs (including prescription drugs) to the point of intoxication, it’s illegal for you to have a firearm until you are no longer intoxicated.
-Where can Community Members legally possess and carry firearms?
If you can legally possess a firearm, you can carry it on your own property and in public places which do not carry any legal restrictions to carry firearms.
If you’re on the property of another person or of a business, and they do not want you to carry firearms, you have to either leave your firearms off the property, or leave the property with your firearms.
Although some buildings and facilities are open to the public (such as the casinos and Rawhide), they are actually considered private property for legal purposes. These facilities also have the right to post signs which prohibit people from carrying firearms on their premises.
Some public buildings, areas, and events have posted notices which prohibit Community Members from carrying firearms. Examples would be government buildings (such as Service Centers, the Governance Center, the Community Courts, and the Criminal Justice Facility), schools, hospitals, and the Mul-Chu-Tha.
-Where can Community Members legally shoot their firearms (target practice)?
You can shoot on their own lands, or the lands of others, provided you have legal permission to do so and can shoot there safely.
It is very important that shooting locations have a safe back-stop (a place to catch bullets after they hit their target), are not near residences, personal property (buildings, farm equipment, livestock), or roadways, and allow you to make sure each shot can be safely taken.
No litter (ammunition casings, targets, appliances, bottles, etc.) should be left at the shooting site after you’re done, unless you’re shooting on your own property.
-Are certain kinds of firearms illegal to own or possess on the GRIC?
Most types of pistols, revolvers, rifles, and shotguns are legal to own and carry. Machine guns, sound suppressors (silencers), short-barreled shotguns and rifles (see below), explosives (grenades, dynamite, etc.), and bombs are not legal to possess under tribal, state, or federal law, unless the you are specially licensed by the federal government.
Additionally, stolen firearms and firearms which have had their serial numbers removed are illegal to possess.
-What defines a short-barreled / illegally short rifle or shotgun (“sawed-off”)?
These are defined by federal law as follows: Rifles must be at least 26 inches in overall length, and must have a barrel of at least 16 inches in length.
Shotguns must be at least 26 inches in overall length, and must have a barrel of at least 18 inches in length. Possession of a rifle or shotgun shorter than these measurements is a federal felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
-Can a Community Member hunt on the GRIC?
Community Members can hunt on the GRIC, provided the game being hunted is not a protected / endangered species and you are in a location where it is legal and safe to be and shoot at the game.
The Community does not presently define seasons for game. A Community Member’s privilege to hunt does not extend to guests or family members who are not enrolled GRIC members.
-Can a Community Member carry a concealed firearm on the GRIC?
No current laws which prohibit carry of concealed firearms on the GRIC.
-Can a GRPD officer legally take my firearm during a contact? Do they have to give it back?
While engaged in official and properly-justified business (such as a police investigation or a traffic stop), GRPD officers can take temporary custody of your firearm.
As long as you are legally allowed to possess the firearm, it is not a stolen or illegal weapon, and it is not being seized as evidence or for safekeeping (which can happen during certain kinds of domestic violence calls), your firearm will be returned to you at the end of the contact.
Officers will usually return your firearm to you unloaded, and ask you not touch or reload it until they have left the area.
-If a GRPD officer asks if I have a firearm during a police investigation, do I have to tell him/her?
By Community Code, you have to be truthful if a police officer asks you whether you have a firearm during an official police investigation or contact.