by Alia Beard Rau – Apr. 16, 2010 03:46 PM
The Arizona Republic
Starting later this summer, U.S. citizens 21 and older can begin carrying a concealed firearm without a permit in Arizona.
Gov. Jan Brewer signed Senate Bill 1108 into law Friday afternoon. It eliminates the requirement for a concealed-carry weapons permit, but does require gun owners to accurately answer if an officer asks them if they are carrying weapon concealed. It also allows officers to temporarily confiscate a weapon while they are talking to an individual, including during a traffic stop.
“I believe strongly in the individual rights and responsibilities of a free society, and as governor I have pledged a solemn and important oath to protect and defend the Constitution,” Brewer said in a news release. “I believe this legislation not only protects the Second Amendment rights of Arizona citizens, but restores those rights as well.”
The law goes into effect 90 days after the Legislature adjourns for this session, which could happen in the next couple of weeks.
Arizona joins Vermont and Alaska in not requiring such permits.
“If you want to carry concealed, and you have no criminal history, you are a good guy, you can do it,” bill sponsor Sen. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, has said of his bill. “It’s a freedom that poses no threat to the public.”
National Rifle Association lobbyist Matt Dogali said the new state law would not violate any current federal requirements.
“There is no federal requirement for a permit or lack thereof,” Dogali said.
The federal government oversees the background-check program required to purchase a weapon, which will still be required in Arizona in most cases.
Brewer last week did sign a separate law that exempts guns made and kept in Arizona from federal regulation, including background checks.
Arizona had 154,279 active permits as of April 4. Permit holders are spread across all ages, races and counties, but White males older than 30 in Maricopa and Pima counties hold the majority, according to the Arizona Department of Public Safety data.
The permits generated $1.8 million in revenue last fiscal year, according to DPS. The money is used to help cover costs for enforcing laws related to the Highway Patrol, operating the concealed-carry weapon-licensing program and impounding vehicles.
Arizona’s permit process will remain in place, and many gun owners may still choose to get a permit. Permits would still be needed in order to carry a weapon into a restaurant or bar that serves alcohol. They would also be needed if an Arizonan wants to carry his or her gun concealed in most other states.
For those who do choose to get a permit, the education requirements do change under the new law. Classes are no longer required to be a set number of hours or include any hands-on use of the weapon. Those who don’t get a permit would not be required to get any training or education.
Retired Mesa police officer Dan Furbee runs a business teaching permit and other gun safety classes. He said if most people choose not to get a permit, it will put several hundred Arizona firearms instructors out of business.
“It’s going to hurt,” he said.
But he said what really concerns him is that the new law will allow people who have had no education about Arizona’s laws and no training on the shooting range to carry a concealed gun. The eight-hour class currently required to get a permit includes information on state law and gun safety, as well as requires students to be able to hit a target 14 out of 20 times. Furbee said his class at Mesa-based Ultimate Accessories costs $79, plus $60 for the five-year permit.
“I fully agree that we have a right to keep and bear arms,” Furbee said. “But if you are not responsible enough to take a class and learn the laws, you are worse than part of the problem.”
He said it’s not uncommon for students to walk into his classroom and pull a new gun out of a box with no idea how to hold it and no understanding of the laws surrounding it.
“If you are going to carry a concealed weapon, you should have some kind of training and show that you are at least competent to know how the gun works and be able to hit a target,” he said. “You owe the people around you a measure of responsibility.”
This new law is the latest of several that have passed over the past year since Brewer took over the office from former Gov. Janet Napolitano, a Democrat.
Napolitano 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 Brewer became governor.
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.