Gun violence at HOA meetings is rare, but receives much media attention. No one will forget the tragic murders of two women and the wounding of three others in Arizona when a man opened fire during an HOA meeting in 2000. More recently is the shooting in Louisville, Kentucky where a homeowner shot and killed two board members during an HOA meeting. Disagreements at board meetings are not likely to end so tragically, but gun control laws are on our radar following the senseless massacre in Newtown, Connecticut.
Arizona is only the third state after Vermont and Alaska to allow the carrying of concealed weapons without a permit. There are certain areas that state law prohibits carrying a gun, concealed or otherwise, such as election polling places, jails, and schools. There are exceptions and exceptions to the exceptions, the most notable being for concealed permit holders in bars. You can carry a concealed weapon in a bar unless the bar posts a sign that complies with A.R.S. § 4-229 by, among other things, clearly prohibiting weapons on the premises. People often think the same signage applies to HOAs, but HOAs aren’t licensed like bars to sell alcohol.
HOAs normally conduct meetings on Common Areas or Common Elements, which is private property. The statutes governing private property should not be confused with other statutes controlling bar and other retailers. It is criminal trespass to carry a firearm on any private property or at a private establishment where the owner or any other person having lawful control over the property has given reasonable notice forbidding the carrying of deadly weapons or firearms. See A.R.S. §13-1502; A.R.S. §13-1503. Although there is no specific requirements for private property signage, here are some good guidelines to follow if your HOA wishes to ban guns from its meetings: (1) post signage in a conspicuous location; (2) the sign should contain a pictogram showing a firearm with a red circle and a diagonal red line across the firearm; and (3) the sign should contain the words “No firearms allowed.”
Preventing violence at HOA meetings does not necessarily begin with gun control laws. It is not a good idea to confront someone with a weapon. If there is fear that someone may bring a weapon to and/or the potential for violence at a meeting, the board of directors or homeowners should consult with HOA professionals such as community managers and attorneys. These professionals can advise when and how to use security and law enforcement at HOA meetings.