A bill that would let gun owners carry a concealed weapon without a permit cleared a hurdle in the Arizona House of Representatives March 25 and is now ready for a formal vote.
The bill, H2347, would still keep the concealed weapon permitting program in place, but would not require people register for a permit or take the mandatory eight-hour training class before they carry a concealed gun.
If it becomes law, Arizona would become only the third state in the nation to let all adults carry concealed firearms, joining Vermont and Alaska.
Identical legislation has already been approved by the Senate, which means only a final roll call vote remains before the measure will be sent to Gov. Jan Brewer.
The Arizona licensing program began in 1994, and Rep. Chad Campbell, a Phoenix Democrat, said he doesn’t understand the reasoning for ending it.
“If a person is not willing to go to an eight-hour class…then I’m not sure I want that person carrying a concealed weapon in this state,” Campbell said, noting he has been a gun owner his entire life.
Supporters of the bill said the ability to carry a weapon – concealed or not – is inherent with being an American.
“(The bill) expands our liberty and supports the Second Amendment,” said Rep. David Gowan, a Republican from Sierra Vista. “I believe (this) is a right that we have.”
Arizona already allows people to openly carry loaded firearms. In recent years, gun rights advocates have successfully pushed for more freedom for gun owners in the state, including allowing them to carry weapons into bars and brandish their weapon in response to a threat of physical violence.