Arizona governor vetoes gun bill; others advance

| 5/8/2008

Gov. Janet Napolitano has vetoed legislation that would have reduced the penalty in Arizona for illegally carrying concealed weapons. Other gun bills remain active.

State law now calls for up to $2,500 in fines and/or six months in jail for people found in violation. The measure – HB2630 – 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.

A separate bill on the move at the statehouse is designed for women by putting in place a new exception to the state’s weapons misconduct law.

Sponsored by Rep. Barbara McGuire, D-Kearny, the measure – HB2788 – would allow people to put guns in closed pursues in vehicles. The House voted 51-5 to advance the bill to the Senate. The rule would apply regardless of whether a person had a concealed carry permit.

Arizona law already lets people without concealed carry permits to have guns in cases, holsters or luggage in vehicles. Weapons also are allowed in glove boxes, map pockets and elsewhere.

A bill awaiting consideration before the full Senate also would ease the restrictions on where people can carry guns.

Sponsored by Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, the measure – HB2389 – would permit guns to be hidden anywhere in vehicles, whether the person possessed a concealed weapons permit or not. The House already approved it.

Supporters say the bill is intended to keep people without permits from getting arrested simply because their gun is inadvertently covered.

Opponents say more hidden weapons would create greater danger to law enforcement officers who stop motorists.

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

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor