Arizona governor vetoes bills that would have eased gun controls

| 7/22/2008

In Arizona, Gov. Janet Napolitano has vetoed legislation that sought to ease restrictions on where people can carry guns in vehicles. Other gun bills in the state met the same fate.

The measure – HB2389 – would have permitted guns to be hidden anywhere in vehicles, whether the person possessed a concealed weapons permit or not.

The governor said in her veto message that the bill “would have added to the level of uncertainty and danger law enforcement officers who make traffic stops already face in the line of duty.”

Arizona law currently lets people who don’t have concealed carry permits to have guns in cases, holsters or luggage in vehicles. Weapons also are allowed in glove boxes, map pockets and elsewhere. Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, said his bill was intended to keep people without permits from getting arrested simply because their guns were inadvertently covered.

Napolitano also vetoed another bill – HB2626 – that would have prohibited police from charging people with illegally carrying a concealed weapon if any portion of the gun was visible.

“Common sense tells us that exposure of a small corner of a gun handle is insufficient to give reasonable notice to the public or to law enforcement that a person is armed,” Napolitano wrote.

Other Arizona gun bills vetoed by her this year include a bill that called for reducing the penalty for illegally carrying concealed weapons. State law now allows for $2,500 fines and/or six months in jail for people found in violation. The measure sought to limit penalties to $300 in fines.

Napolitano said the current penalties are appropriate.

Advocates for the change said the bill was intended to protect people who are not committing any other crimes. Rep. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, said it is unrealistic to believe that making it a crime to carry concealed weapons actually deters crime, the Arizona Daily Star reported.

One other vetoed bill would have allowed people who believe they are threatened to unholster a gun without being charged with a crime.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Arizona in 2008, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor