A House panel has approved legislation that would allow Arizonans to carry concealed firearms without a permit.
The bill, H2347, would not end Arizona’s concealed-weapons program. Instead, it would make participation optional.
Law enforcement groups oppose the idea. John Thomas, a lobbyist for the Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police, said making the concealed-weapons permit optional would put the public and law enforcement officers in danger.
“That means no training, no classes on what to expect, no training on the rules and regulations of Arizona,” he said.
But supporters of the bill told the House Military Affairs and Public Safety Committee the goal was to make firearms laws less restrictive.
“By no means do we want to see a police officer put in harm, but we want to protect individual rights,” said John Wentling, vice president of the Arizona Citizens Defense League.
Republican legislators on the committee said concealed-weapons training is worthless. Rep. Jerry Weiers, a Glendale Republican and chairman of the committee, said much of the training focuses on how a gun owner can be sued if he or she uses the weapon. State law requires applicants for a concealed weapons permit to fire only 10 shots at stationary targets.
“If that’s all people do to get their CCW, I think it’s a joke,” Weiers said.
Arizona already allows lawful gun owners to carry guns openly. It makes no sense to impose different rules on people who cover the gun – whether to intentionally hide it or accidentally by putting on a coat, said National Rifle Association lobbyist Matt Dogali.
“If I untuck my shirt, I need eight hours of training and fingerprints,” he said.
The bill was approved 5-2, but Weiers said it would likely undergo major revisions before it is debated on the floor by the entire House. A Senate committee passed a similar bill last week.