Wednesday, March 31, 2010

SB1168: Eliminating one more "hole" in the right to carry.

The vote totals aren't showing on the state Senate website just yet, but SB 1168 was presumably passed this Monday when it received its third reading, and will thus (if all goes well) be considered by the House.

Arizona is almost a model for liberal firearms regulation. There remain, however, "holes" in the state, areas that are not secured, where "checking" one's firearm is not an option, and where open carry is prohibited. Alcohol-serving establishments, schools and universities, and public parks are all places one must avoid if carrying openly. In two out of three of these cases, concealed carry is either prohibited outright or nearly always prohibited. This means, of course, that one must be un-armed on one's way to or from these places, as well.

ARS 13-3108 currently authorizes political subdivisions of the state to restrict carry in parks so that only those with CCW permits may carry. SB 1168--not to be confused with a 2009 firearms bill with the same number--eliminates this power. It also explicitly prevents political subdivisions from enacting or enforcing firearms laws more restrictive than those of the State.

Since the Board of Regents is authorized separately in ARS title 12 to restrict carry at the universities, this does not seem to be true "constitutional carry", as some of the bill's proponents claim. But it's a step in the right direction. Every time liberalization advances, we get to turn to those who repeat old anti-gun arguments long after they've been disproved by experience.

To my fellow academics: Are you afraid to go everywhere in AZ except the university, the courthouse, bars and restaurants with those reactionary signs, and the public park? Are you afraid, now, to go to the park, too? Is this fear well-founded? Are these dangerous places relative to less liberal states?

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