HB 2347, the House version of the AzCDL-requested Constitutional Carry bill, passed out of the House Rules committee on March 8th. Its next stop is the House Committee of the Whole (COW) for debate and voice vote. Unfortunately, bills are added to COW calendars with very little advanced warning, so keep your keyboards ready for an “11th hour” email offensive.
SB 1108, the Senate version of Constitutional Carry, is awaiting a review in the Senate Rules Committee before it progresses to the Senate COW.
We are picking up disinformation that is being spread about the Constitutional Carry bills, so let’s review their features. Article 2, Section 26 of the Arizona Constitution says that your pre-existing right to bear arms “shall not be impaired.” The Constitutional Carry bills restore that right by eliminating the prohibition and penalties currently in place for law-abiding adults who carry a concealed weapon without a CCW permit.
The Constitutional Carry bills also eliminate the confusion in interpreting the statutes regarding open carry and vehicle carry that have been clouded since 1994 by Appellate court decisions. For all practical purposes the only current way to be sure you are legally carrying openly, or in your vehicle, is to have a CCW permit.
The CCW permit becomes optional – it is not eliminated. Training requirements would be broadened to facilitate obtaining the optional permit. The expanded training opportunities include allowing the use of NRA training, proof of military service, college level courses and training from an approved firearms training school (e.g., Gunsite, Front Sight). Since these are similar to requirements in use by Florida and a number of other states, reciprocity should be unaffected.
A CCW permit will still be required to carry concealed into establishments that serve alcohol and to bypass the NICS check when purchasing a firearm from a licensed dealer. Additionally, language has been added in HB 2347 & SB 1108 that exempts CCW permit holders from the requirement to be unarmed when entering a “non-secure” state and local government building. A non-secure building is one that doesn’t have the means to tightly control access by the general public.
The majority of rank and file law enforcement organizations are not opposing the Constitutional Carry bills. Opposition remains from organizations representing the chiefs of police and some county attorneys, primarily political positions.
There are many still working to defeat Constitutional Carry in the legislature. AzCDL is constantly working at the Capitol to count the supporters and influence the fence-sitters. Constitutional Carry has a good chance of becoming law this year, but our success will be totally dependent on YOUR involvement. When legislators hear from you, they get the message. Get ready!
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