Arizona Enacts “Constitutional Carry” For Firearms
“Freedom To Carry” may replace so-called “Right To Carry” nationally.
by Alan Korwin, Publisher
PHOENIX, AZ –-(AmmoLand.com)- With governor Jan Brewer's signature on the new “Constitutional Carry” firearm law, Arizona becomes a beacon state for the nation on the gun-rights issue.
Arizonans, who have been free to carry firearms openly since statehood in 1912, will now be free to carry discreetly as well, without permits or red tape. Low-crime Vermont has had this freedom intact since Colonial days. The permit system remains in place but will no longer be required for discreet carry.
Alaska enacted a Constitutional Carry law in 2003, and Texas passed a limited version for traveling in 2007. Montana has enjoyed this freedom since 1991 on 99.4% of its land (outside city limits). These states experienced no increase in crime or accidents from the expanded freedom to discreetly bear arms in public. However, numerous dire warnings of “blood in the streets” preceded those new laws, but proved false. A list of circulating myths about the law, also known as “Freedom To Carry,” appears on AmmoLand.com following this article.
Arizona's extremely strict laws on criminal misuse of firearms are unaffected by the new public freedoms, although a penalty for criminals got tougher. New language now makes concealed carry in the commission of a serious crime a felony. This led to support of the bill from police around the state. Formerly, that offense was a misdemeanor.
The intrusive government “permit” system in Arizona, introduced in 1994 with paperwork, approvals, fingerprinting, criminal-database listings, required classes, two mandatory tests, taxation and expiration dates to exercise “rights” is still available, but is now optional. Enormous police resources that could be going directly toward reducing crime have instead been diverted by the program into registering, regulating and tracking the innocent. About 3% of the public have signed up for the plastic-coated permission slips, though an estimated 50% of the state's population keeps and bears arms. Official sources acknowledge they get millions of dollars per year from the permit taxes called “fees.”
“This new law brings rights restoration for the public, and an increase in freedom for law-abiding people,” said Dave Kopp, a lobbyist for the Arizona Citizens Defense League that requested and promoted the new law. “The people have the same right to bear arms discreetly that they have to bear arms openly, we are simply correcting statute to reflect that. If your jacket accidentally covers your sidearm, that no longer exposes you to criminal penalties.” A woman will be able to put a handgun in her handbag, go about her business, and not be subject to arrest.
The key changes in the law were made by repealing the infringing language in A.R.S. §13-3102, not by enacting new rules. A number of other changes were made in SB 1108, the bill that carried the Constitutional Carry law, and these will be described in plain English and posted by gunlaws.com next week. The new law will become effective 90 days after the legislature closes, or approximately in July.
“Opportunities for firearms training and gun safety can increase tremendously with this new law”, said Alan Korwin, author of The Arizona Gun Owner's Guide, the book that describes the state's gun laws in plain English. “Instead of focusing on a tiny percentage of the market willing to submit to the permit system, smart trainers can now offer Freedom To Carry classes to the general public. We're anticipating Family Days At The Range and Constitutional Carry classes to spring up statewide,” he said. Removal of the $60 tax for the permit represents a significant discount, he notes.
“We sold The Arizona Gun Owner's Guide by the truckload for five years before there was any CCW law, and expect to do the same now, though permit holders did become and will remain a segment of our business,” Korwin said. The Guide is now in its 24th edition, and a free update will be released shortly. The book's publisher, Scottsdale-based Bloomfield Press, is the largest publisher and distributor of gun-law books in the country. www.gunlaws.com
The permission-slip system is unaffected and offers some advantages to citizens. Other states recognize the Arizona permit under “reciprocity,” which allows permit holders to carry firearms when in those states (currently 23 according to the Dept. of Public Safety).
In addition, since permitees are constantly monitored through the criminal databases DPS registers them in, they can shop at retail for firearms without undergoing separate FBI background checks each time they make a purchase. Also, some people just get a sense of security by having a plastic government “authorization” card in their wallets, and they enjoy showing it to friends.
Another CCW-permit benefit is the ability to carry in restaurants that serve alcohol, as long as the restaurant itself doesn't ban possession and the person doesn't drink while there. Whether those various denials of rights will be eliminated in future legislation, making the general public equal to permission-slip holders, was unknown at press time.
Previously only people with government-permission cards in their possession could bear arms in certain parks. That ban was eliminated by a separate bill this year, which now makes permit holders and the general public equal.
According to MSNBC, some six million Americans have permits and carry discreetly. The fears of shootouts at stop lights, bullets for slow waiters and Wild West-style belligerence have been repeatedly proven false and dispelled as hoplophobic fantasies. Statistics have shown that crime uniformly drops when states reduce infringements on the right of law-abiding people to keep and bear arms. “Society is safer when criminals don't know who's armed,” according to the California-based civil rights group, crpa.org.
Sales of small easily carried sidearms and accessories are expected to increase with passage of the new law.Alan Korwin
“We publish the gun laws.”
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