Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Is permit-free 'Vermont carry' coming to Arizona?

On February 1, Arizona's State Senate Judiciary Committee voted in favor of a bill that would eliminate criminal penalties for people who carry firearms concealed without a permit. The measure has provoked opposition from an association representing chiefs of police in the Grand Canyon State -- which some cynics might well take as an implicit endorsement of the proposal.

Arizona already allows open carry -- carrying a firearm in plain view -- without a permit, and is a "must-issue" state in which carry permits are readily available to people with a clean record who satisfy basic requirements. But it's not uncommon for un-permitted Arizonans to tuck guns in their pockets when stepping out for a hike, to run dogs or for other purposes, and so risk criminal penalties for a victimless act if caught. That has prompted legislators to consider following in the footsteps of Vermont and Alaska, states which don't require carry permits and have seen little in the way of a downside from removing one pitfall among many from the lawbooks.

The proposed bill, SB 1102, strikes language from the law that penalizes carrying any concealed weapon, except a pocket knife, without a permit, and that also bans having a weapon "concealed within immediate control of any person in or on a means of transportation." The measure passed the Senate Judicary Committee by a 4-3 vote.

If it becomes law, the bill would still leave permits available for those who want them -- especially people who want to carry their guns in other states that offer reciprocity to Arizona permit-holders.

In response, John Thomas, the lobbyist for the Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police, said, "SB 1102, if enacted into law, will take Arizona back to the Wild West carry, with no consideration of officer safety.''

Historians might note that Arizona should be so lucky -- several studies have found the "Wild West" to have lower crime rates than modern America. In Gunfighters, Highwaymen & Vigilantes, author Roger D. McGrath, a professor of history, referring to the "rough" mining towns he researched, wrote, "Bodie's rates of robery, burglary and theft were dramatically lower than those of most U.S. cities  in 1980." He added, "Aurora and Bodie women, other than prostitutes, suffered little from crime or violence." Not to minimize the crimes suffered by women in the sex trade, but women in that socially and legally stigmatized business continue to suffer more severely from crime than other women.

The towns McGrath studied did have high homicide rates but "those killed, with only a few exceptions, had been willing combatants, and many of them were roughs or badmen." Basically, the violence was largely confined to a subculture of voluntary participants -- which is almost the only part of the Old West we see in the movies.

Tellingly, McGrath found, "[t]he citizens themselves, armed with various types of firearms and willing to kill to protect their persons or property, were evidently the most important deterrent to larcenous crime."

It's not to much of a stretch to infer that Arizona's modern chiefs of police oppose SB 1102 and its looser firearms restrictions because they just don't want to be rendered unnecessary.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

symphaNot only unnecessary but a limit on thier absolute power. The police no matter how tough they feel are; may not feel so empowered when they have to deal with an armed person. They better be extremely confident in their assesment of the person, otherwise one of them may just get shot.

February 2, 2010 11:55 AM  
Anonymous MacK said...

Anonymous you may be correct.

In school the bully never picked on the kid that was as tough as he was.

He found the kid that could not defend himself.

February 3, 2010 4:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

here lately whatever the cops oppose i seem to be in favor of. damned odd.

February 3, 2010 2:00 PM  
Blogger liberranter said...

It will be interesting to see whether or not the legislature capitulates in the face of resistance from those who represent the "brown-shirted paladins of 'public order' (to borrow a classic William Norman Grigg phrase). Given that we have a reputation of being one of the reddest of "Red States", a key characteristic of which is a near deification of "law [sic] enforcement," such a capitulation would not be at all surprising. Considering too the fact that the criminal parasites who rule over us from Phoenix rely on said brownshirts for personal protection and as muscle in the imposition of their criminal fiats upon us, and it becomes clear that this is one constituency that they cannot afford to alienate (think "Joe Arpaio versus the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors").

February 4, 2010 10:13 AM  
Anonymous Joe said...

The anti-carry crowd needs to get new talking points. "Reverting back to the Wild West" has been used for over 20 years now, and I'm frankly quite tired of it.

February 4, 2010 4:38 PM  

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