The proposal, which is scheduled to be heard today in the Senate Judiciary Committee, has sparked a debate over what restrictions should be placed on gun owners who wish to carry weapons in public buildings, schools and other places.
Opponents said the bill would endanger law-enforcement officers and the public by eliminating permits and the training courses now required to obtain them.
“This bill would make a radical and very dangerous change to state law,” Attorney General Terry Goddard said at a Thursday news conference. “The current law in Arizona is not broken. It has worked exceptionally well.”
To receive a concealed-carry permit today, gun owners have to take an eight-hour course on gun laws and safety and pass a shooting test. The course costs about $100. About 125,000 Arizonans have obtained the $60 permit since the concealed-carry law was established in 1994.
Senate Bill 1270, sponsored by Sen. Sylvia Allen, would make the safety course optional. It also would allow people to carry guns into public buildings and onto school campuses if they were picking up their children or responding to an emergency.
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Supporters of the bill say existing concealed-carry laws are confusing and can lead to unfair prosecution. A woman could be arrested for a concealed-carry violation if she was driving in her car and inadvertently placed a newspaper on top of a gun in the passenger's seat, they say.
Gun owners who want to untuck their shirts to conceal a weapon when they walk into a store shouldn't have to take a training course, said John Wentling, vice president of the Arizona Citizens Defense League. Read more