Saying it promotes safety, the No. 2 House Republican wants the state to pay for Arizonans to get licensed to carry concealed weapons.
The proposal by House Majority Leader Steve Montenegro, R-Litchfield Park, would provide a dollar-for-dollar credit against state income taxes owed for the cost of training to get a CCW permit, up to $80. Put simply, any Arizonan who gets a permit could deduct that much from what he or she owes the state.
And if that person owes less than $80 at tax time, the difference would carry forward, reducing future tax liability.
Arizona law allows any adult to carry a concealed weapon.
There are, however, certain advantages to having a permit, like being able to bring it into a place where alcohol is served. And Arizona’s permit is honored by a majority of other states.
At last count about 251,000 people have obtained CCW permits.
But Montenegro said there also is a public benefit to having more people who have licenses.
“It’s promoting safety,” he said of HB 2494. “Law enforcement has told us time and time again that the first line of defense are those that carry CCW permits.”
Montenegro rejected any comparison of offering concealed-carry courses to create safer gun owners with optional driver-education courses to create safer drivers — courses that would not qualify for the same tax credit. He said preparing people to safely handle firearms addresses a specific risk.
“We see this throughout the country were you have, all of a sudden, someone that is not in their right mind, or somebody that is evil, walking in and targeting innocent people,” Montenegro said.
“We want to promote people being educated in having CCW permits,” he continued. “We value those that are able to take these classes and help us with safety.”
Montenegro, who has a CCW permit, said the classes teach more than safely handling a firearm. He said it also acquaints people with the laws on the use of deadly force as well as knowing when not to use a gun.
Montenegro said he does not know how many Arizonans could take advantage of the law and get the credit.
About 251,000 people already have such permits. Those people would be ineligible for the credit.
But the permits are available to anyone 21 or older who is not otherwise disqualified from possessing a firearm, such as conviction of a felony.
That could theoretically leave at least three million Arizonans who could take the course and get the $80 credit, at a cost of $240 million. Montenegro said he does not think the cost in state tax revenues should be a factor.
“We want to promote a safe Arizona,” he said. “And we can’t put a price on any lives as well.
Costs for getting the require training around Arizona range from $50 to $115.
CCW Permits by county:
Apache — 988
Cochise — 6,618
Coconino — 3,536
Gila — 2,305
Graham — 687
La Paz — 814
Maricopa — 93,260
Mohave — 11,422
Navajo — 2,756
Pima — 25,513
Pinal — 9,742
Santa Cruz — 695
Yavapai — 11,696
Yuma — 4,337
— Source: Arizona Department of Public Safety