Arizona Legalizes Concealed Carry without a Permit

Governor Brewer signs legislation into law

By David Morse
Guest Columnist
Published on Sunday, May 2, 2010 9:16 AM MST

Gov. Jan Brewer signed SB 1108, a bill that decriminalizes the carrying of concealed weapons in the state of Arizona, on April 16. This bill will become law 90 days after the Legislature closes.

Arizona will become the third state, following Vermont and Alaska, allowing concealed carry without a permit. Arizona will be the first state with a large urban population to enact such legislation.

What does this mean? In short, any person 21 years of age or older legally qualified to own a firearm may carry a firearm in concealment, where not restricted, without fear of arrest or prosecution. The current system for issue of concealed weapons permits will remain in place. Persons wishing to join the more than 154,000 Arizonans who already have concealed weapons permits will have that option.

Is this a good thing? In a free society can there be too much freedom? I predict many people will drop pistols in their pockets and tuck revolvers into their waistbands “because they can.” After a month or so, when the novelty is gone and the added weight and bother of carrying a chunk of iron sets in, many of those guns will go back into drawers and safes.

Allow me to offer one bit of advice. Guns are deadly weapons. Carrying a deadly weapon incurs many risks and imposes many responsibilities. This is not something to be done lightly without thought or consideration. Carry responsibly!

Many restrictions will still exist. One cannot carry weapons on private property (or any property for that matter) posted “No Guns Allowed,” on national monuments, Indian reservations, school grounds, military reservations and other places.

Be aware that the law requires any person carrying a concealed weapon to inform a police officer about the weapon if asked. Also, the weapon must be surrendered to a police officer, for temporary holding, upon request.

And just because no law forbids carrying a concealed weapon, that does not mean there are no laws against improper use or display of firearms. I foresee a rash of “misconduct with firearms” or “endangerment with firearms” arrests (both class-6 felonies) in certain parts of the state not known as gun-friendly.

Obtaining an Arizona concealed weapons permit is still a good idea. Reciprocity is a big factor. At this time, 29 states will honor your Arizona CCW — similar to their recognition of your Arizona driver’s license. Without a permit, your “right to carry” ends at the Arizona state line.

Last year, Arizona allowed permit holders to carry their concealed weapons into restaurants and bars that served alcohol, provided the establishment had not posted a notice they would not allow carry on their premises and the person consumed no alcohol. Those without a permit can be issued citations and their firearms confiscated if they carry weapons into an establishment serving alcohol, whether the premises are posted or not.

People with a valid Arizona CCW may purchase a firearm from a federally licensed dealer without being subjected to a federal background check at the time of purchase. The FFL dealer notes the CCW number on the 4473 form in lieu of making a National Instant Check System call, and the buyer takes the gun home with him.

About one out of five calls to NICS results in a “delay” status for the purchase. The buyer cannot take the gun with him at that time. A delay means NICS needs time to check something found in its initial computer-based background check. Maybe there are several “John Smiths” with criminal backgrounds, or the buyer has an arrest from 15 years back and the fact no charges were filed is not noted; maybe a restraining order in another state was issued to a “John Smith.”

There can be dozens of reasons. Many have obtained CCWs simply because their names are common, and they get tired of delays every time they try to purchase a firearm. Also, there are no federal computer-based records of the purchase.

And last but not least: training. There is no such thing as too much training. The eight hours spent in the AZ CCW course is but a touch on the myriad and complex tactical, legal and moral issues inherent to carrying a deadly weapon.

Having the permit carries one more advantage: respect. Members of law enforcement recognize that those who have obtained a permit to carry are honest citizens who have made an effort to educate themselves about firearms and related laws.

When an officer or deputy runs your name in a routine traffic stop, the fact that you have been issued a CCW permit is displayed on the patrol car’s computer screen. Most cops will be much more cordial and relaxed with a person they know has a CCW because they know he is not a felon and is possibly honest by nature. How many criminals spend time going to classes and getting permits?

The cost of an AZ CCW permit (valid for five years) is $60. The reciprocity, avoidance of NICS delays, training and respect that come with a CCW permit are priceless.

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