Story from Az Central... I'm glad Napolitano is finally out of here, but her being secretary of Homeland Security scares the shit out of me!
Push is on to ease Arizona's gun laws
This year, the state's Republican governor and a conservative Legislature may continue that tradition by giving Arizonans some of the least-restrictive weapons laws in the nation.
This session, state lawmakers have proposed more than a dozen bills on expanding rights to carry and use guns and knives.
The proposed laws would allow people to carry concealed weapons without a permit, end requirements that guns manufactured and kept in Arizona be registered, and allow university professors to carry guns on school grounds.
Although the number of bills on the subject is not unusual, weapons-rights supporters believe this year - with a conservative governor, a Legislature sympathetic to their cause and more freedom to address issues other than the budget - may be their year to lift many limits. It also is an election year, and gun rights have always been a popular campaign platform among conservatives.
"Arizona is very gun-friendly, and we've made a lot of progress over the past probably 10 to 12 years," weapons-rights lobbyist Todd Rathner said. "But, right now, the Legislature and the governor are favorable to a pro-Second Amendment agenda, so we're trying to accomplish as much as we can."
Weapons advocates are so optimistic about their chances this year that a knife-rights advocacy group hopes to use Arizona to launch a national effort to give state Legislatures exclusive authority over local governments to regulate knife use.
The efforts won't be without opposition.
Sen. Meg Burton Cahill, D-Tempe, said some of the legislative efforts could hurt the state economically.
"These laws are not going to be seen as friendly to business, friendly to children and good for the economy of Arizona," she said. "This is a very critical time, and we are turning people away from Arizona, making them more fearful of coming to the Wild West."
Then-Gov. Janet Napolitano, a Democrat, vetoed at least a dozen weapons bills that crossed her desk during her seven years in office, all of which would have loosened gun restrictions. In 2005, Napolitano rejected a bill that would have allowed patrons to carry loaded guns into bars and restaurants. In 2008, she also vetoed a bill that would have allowed people to have a hidden gun in vehicles without a concealed-carry permit.
In January 2009, Napolitano resigned to become U.S. Homeland Security secretary and Republican Secretary of State Jan Brewer became governor. Lawmakers quickly proposed weapons legislation, and Brewer began signing it.
During her first year in office, Brewer signed a bill allowing loaded guns in bars and restaurants, as well as another that prohibits property owners from banning guns from parking areas, so long as the weapons are kept locked in vehicles.
Brewer has been a supporter of Second Amendment rights over her elected career, spokesman Paul Senseman said. He said having her as governor has helped the effort in the state over the past year.
"I think last year was very productive in terms of extending the protections of the Second Amendment," Senseman said.
Brewer would not comment on specific legislation before it reached her desk.
"But it will be important that we continue to be judicious and responsible in enacting good protections for our Second Amendment rights," he said.
Rathner said Arizona's current political atmosphere is precisely why Knife Rights Inc. chose this time and this state to propose a bill that would pre-empt local governments from regulating knives.
Rathner for years represented the National Rifle Association in Arizona, but this year, he is lobbying for the national knife-owner advocacy group. Knife Rights, which Rathner said has a few thousand members nationwide, is based in Gilbert and was started in 2006.
"Guns have been pre-emptive for a decade, and there's been no problem with it," he said. "Knives are the next step."
Rathner said about 10 Arizona cities restrict knives, including Phoenix. Phoenix outlaws carrying knives, except for pocketknives. If the bill becomes law, Phoenix's ordinance would no longer be enforceable.
If successful, Rathner said, the group will push other states to pass the law.
Several Arizona cities oppose the bill, including Phoenix.
The gun measure likely to draw the biggest buzz proposes to no longer require people to get a permit to carry a concealed weapon.
Sen. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, is sponsoring the Senate version of the bill. He said his bill simply puts into law what Arizona and the nation's founders always intended.
"If you are a law-abiding citizen, you have a right to carry," Pearce said.
Whether they support the bills or not, legislators agree on one thing: Many of the bills have a good chance of becoming law.
Rep. Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix, said he has owned guns most of his life. He said that changing the concealed-weapon permit law moves Arizona in the wrong direction but that his opinion may not matter.
"If the Republicans want to push this through, we can't stop it. They run the Legislature, they run the Governor's Office," he said. "I'm not sure the general public wants to go back to the day when people could walk into any saloon with a firearm strapped to their hip, but it seems like the majority party does."
Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, warned that nothing is a sure thing in the Legislature, particularly this year.
"The budget is casting such a gloomy cloud over everything that it's hard to get a read," he said.
However, Republican House Majority Leader Chuck Gray said Second Amendment rights also are a priority.
"Most of the gun issues are going to be looked at to make sure they are written correctly, but we will be very favorable toward the rights of the people," Gray said.
The largest hurdle these bills face this year, as in past years, is likely opposition from law-enforcement groups. The Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police opposes Pearce's bill.
"If enacted, (the bill) will take Arizona back to Wild West carry, with no consideration for officer safety," association lobbyist John Thomas said.
Only nine states have fewer gun restrictions than Arizona, according to a scorecard released last year by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, a gun-restriction advocacy group.
If some of the legislation is passed, Arizona will likely move lower on the list.
"You have no laws meant to reduce gun violence and protect the public, and you have an active gun lobby there that wants to do away with even the bare threshold of laws you do have," said Ladd Everitt of the Washington, D.C.-based national Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.
Two bills, one to allow concealed weapons without a permit and the other to exempt guns made and kept in the state from federal regulation, each has more than a dozen legislators backing them. If passed, Arizona would be only the third state in the nation to allow either of the looser restrictions.
Everitt called the proposal to no longer require a concealed-carry permit "crazy."
"You would have dangerous individuals and criminals carrying weapons in public," he said.
Pearce said he thinks the legislation will help make Arizonans safer.
"When you have restrictive laws, the only people you restrict are the good guys," he said. "I've never been afraid of a good citizen."
"Proelium Comminus Auctoritate" "Sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel is a muzzle flash."
6 years 25 weeks ago, 10:20 AM