Michael Webster
April 11, 2010
Arizona concealed weapons bill expected to become law
By Michael Webster

Within the next week, Arizona could become the first state with a large urban population to allow U.S. citizens to carry a concealed firearm without a permit throughout the state of Arizona. Only Alaska and Vermont have similar laws.

The Arizona House voted Thursday to make the state the third in the nation to allow people to carry concealed weapons without a permit, sending the governor a bill that would allow Arizonans to forego background checks and classes that are now required.

Currently, in Arizona carrying a hidden firearm without a permit is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.

Senate Bill 1108, crafted by Sen. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, passed in the House of Representatives on Thursday with a vote of 36-19 and no comments from either side.

"This is a big day," National Rifle Association lobbyist Matt Dogali said. "This is a major restoration of a principal right."

The bill will go to the governor Monday, and Gov. Jan Brewer will have until the following Saturday to sign it, veto it, or do nothing and allow it to become law. The law would go into effect 90 days after the legislative session ends, which could happen within the next few weeks.

Brewer spokesman Paul Senseman said she has not made a final decision on whether she will sign the bill. "But she has a long track record of strong, vigorous support of the Second Amendment," he said.

As of April 4, there were 154,279 active concealed-carry weapon permits in Arizona.

The permits generated $1.8 million in revenue last fiscal year, according to Harold Sanders, Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesman. The money is used to help cover costs for enforcing laws related to the Highway Patrol, operating the concealed-carry weapon-licensing program and impounding vehicles. Sanders said it's impossible to know how the legislation would affect that budget or state employees.

Dogali said many gun owners will still likely get a permit. They would still be needed in order to carry a weapon into a restaurant or bar that serves alcohol as well as for an Arizonan to carry his or her weapon concealed in most states.

The training requirements to get the permit would change under the proposed law. John Thomas, lobbyist for the Arizona Chiefs of Police, said the new provisions don't require the training class to be a set number of hours or include any hands-on use of the weapon.

A background check would still be required to get a permit, as well as to buy a gun in most cases. Brewer this week signed another law that exempts guns made and kept in Arizona from federal regulation, including background checks.

The chiefs association was originally opposed to the concealed-weapons bill. It worked to get several provisions added, and the group now is neutral. Those provisions include requiring gun owners to accurately answer an officer when asked if they are carrying a weapon and allowing police to temporarily confiscate the weapon while they are in contact with someone.

"You're going to have officers approaching people and asking them if they are carrying a weapon," he said. "And if a policeman asks you if you are carrying a weapon and you do not answer accurately, it's a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable with six months in jail."

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has already signed the Arizona Firearms Freedom Act (HB 2307) into law, making Arizona the sixth state to pass this type of historic Tenth Amendment legislation.

The Arizona Legislature passed Bill 2307 on April 5. The new law exempts any gun, gun accessory or ammunition from the federal regulation as long as the weapon is manufactured, sold and used within the state.

It excludes firearms that require more than one person to fire them; firearms that have ammunition that explodes after leaving the weapon; firearms that have a bore diameter of more than 1-½ inches and use smokeless powder; and firearms that shoot more than one projectile at a time.

The new law is based off of the Montana Firearms Freedom Act that was passed last year. Similar laws have been introduced in 21 other states.

There could be another federal lawsuit on the horizon that Arizona may get involved with.

According to The Associated Press, the attorneys general for Utah, Wyoming and South Dakota joined a lawsuit Wednesday filed by the attorney general of Montana protecting the state's right to regulate guns within the state boundaries.

According to a spokesman for "FirearmsFreedomAct.com," this was hardly Arizona's first act of defiance against federal overreach. Last year, the Arizona Legislature passed a concurrent resolution known as the Arizona Health Care Freedom Act, which will appear on the ballot this November. If approved by Arizona's voters, it will amend the state's constitution and guarantee Arizonans two things:

-That all Arizonans have the right to spend their own money to obtain legal health care services.

-That all Arizonans have the right NOT to participate in any health care system, of any type.

Arizona is also on the verge of passing a bill that would nullify Cap and Trade (SCR 1050), as well as passing another bill that declares "..any incandescent light bulb manufactured entirely within Arizona and not exported to any other state is not subject to federal regulations." (HB 2337).

Question: What do all these bills have in common? Answer: They all push back against Congress' abuse of the "commerce clause."

In an official statement released recently, Governor Brewer issued a stern warning to the federal government when she noted that the Arizona Firearms Freedom Act should:

"..send a clear and convincing message that politicians in Washington should not attempt to get between Arizonans and their constitutional rights."

Originally introduced and passed in Montana, the Firearms Freedom Act (FFA), declares that any firearms made and retained in-state are beyond the authority of Congress under its constitutional power to regulate commerce among the states. The FFA is primarily a Tenth Amendment challenge to the powers of Congress under the "commerce clause," with firearms as the object. (source, FirearmsFreedomAct.com)

States that have signed FFA's into law now include Arizona, Monatana, Tennessee, Utah, Wyoming, and South Dakota. Idaho's Governor Butch Otter is expected to sign House Bill 589 into law, which will bring the total to seven states. Additionally eighteen other states have introduced nearly identical bills in their state legislatures. These bills have passed through one or more houses in five of those states.

Arizona's FFA (HB 2307) is about much more than the right to keep and bear arms. The legislative findings contained in the act affirm that our union is a compact between the people of the several states, their state governments, and the federal government of the United States. It also declares that,

"The tenth amendment to the United States constitution guarantees to the states and their people all powers not granted to the federal government elsewhere in the constitution and reserves to the state and people of Arizona certain powers as they were understood at the time that Arizona was admitted to statehood in 1912. The guaranty of those powers is a matter of contract between the state and people of Arizona and the United States as of the time that the compact with the United States was agreed on and adopted by Arizona and the United States in 1912."

Furthermore, the act explicitly denies that the federal government has any authority whatsoever to regulate commerce which takes place exclusively inside Arizona's borders (intrastate commerce), which pertains to the manufacture of firearms, firearms accessories and ammunition. This assertion is clearly a direct challenge designed to confront the perversely expansive interpretation of the "commerce clause" which has prevailed in the US Supreme Court for decades.

In spite of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives' assertion that the federal laws they enforce supersede the U.S. Constitution and the Tenth Amendment, the Montana Shooting Sports Association (MSSA) and the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) filed a lawsuit late last year in federal court to validate the principles and terms of the Montana Firearms Freedom Act (MFFA).

Constitution lawyers say all state governments have a concurrent power to decide when the federal government has overstepped its boundaries and violated the Constitution. They also have the authority to determine the best method to redress such a grievance when it occurs. Since the federal government is a limited creation of the people of the several states, it has no authority to usurp powers that were never granted to it in the Constitution, even when it is given extra-legal permission to do so by its own judicial branch.

If the courts fail to uphold the Constitution according to its original meaning, the people of Arizona and every other state have at least three more measures which could be unstoppable if combined and executed in a coordinated and orderly fashion. These three lines of defense are state nullification, interposition and non-violent civil disobedience.

© Michael Webster

 

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Michael Webster

Michael Webster's Syndicated Investigative Reports are read worldwide, in 100 or more U.S. outlets and in at least 136 countries and territories. He publishes articles in association with global news agencies and media information services with more than 350 news affiliates in 136 countries... (more)

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