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Mandatory licensing would reduce gun violence


It has been 7 years since 20 children and 6 adults were killed in a mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012. After the event, President Obama called for action, asking Congress to enact new gun-control legislation that would mandate universal background checks for gun purchases, eliminate the sales of assault weapons and magazines, and focus on the treatment of mental illness. But the National Rifle Association (NRA) and other gun-rights support groups actively campaigned against these changes. Subsequently, the bills introduced into Congress on universal background checks (S. 649) and the assault weapons ban (S. 150) failed. Little has changed in 7 years, and the death tolls continue to rise. In 2017 Arizona had 1,134 firearm deaths, ranking fourth in the nation, on the rise from 927 deaths in 2014 (CDC, 2019).

The Arizona Department of Public Safety currently issues concealed weapons permits at the state level. However, eligibility criteria are lax and, due to Arizona being an open carry state, obtaining a weapons permit is not required to own a firearm. We propose a state licensing program in order to reduce gun violence in Arizona. All gun owners should be required to obtain a firearm permit. Licensing would include a rigorous training program including a classroom-based curriculum focused on firearm safety, Arizona gun laws and a review of gun violence in the U.S. Subsequently, a written exam would need to be passed in order to advance to live range training. Individuals would then learn how to properly handle and shoot firearms followed by a live range qualification exam. Upon successful completion of the program, individuals would qualify to obtain a firearm permit which would be required to purchase or own a gun in Arizona.

According to the CDC (2019), gun deaths have risen gradually in the United States since 2009 and are now as deadly as traffic related deaths. The United States has the highest rate of gun homicide in any developed country, and Americans are 25 times more likely to be a victim of gun homicide than other high income countries (Grinshteyn & Hemenway, 2016). While many policy solutions to reduce gun violence have been formulated, this country and our state remain divided, making passage of any legislation challenging. Requiring all gun owners to be licensed is a sensible solution which can decrease gun violence in our state, akin to requiring a driver’s license to operate a motor vehicle. Necessitating a gun permit to purchase all firearms has been shown to lower gun homicide rates 21% in large cities and 20% in smaller localities (Siegel et al., 2019). In Missouri, repeal of their state permit-to-purchase license law resulted in an increase in annual firearm homicide rates of 23%, again demonstrating the potential effectiveness of licensing laws (Webster, Crifasi & Vernick, 2014).

The right to bear arms is guaranteed in our nation’s Constitution and many, including the NRA, are against new laws or requirements to gun ownership.  However, our law enforcement and military are trained extensively on firearm usage, both in the classroom and on the range, before they are allowed to handle and use guns. Civilians should be held to the same requirements.  An independent study found that carrying a gun did not realistically provide self-defense unless a user is properly trained in the classroom and on the range (NGVAC, 2015). The NRA (2019) even offers courses to help people learn firearm basics, safety, and improve marksmanship and shooting skills. Required licensure is not meant to reduce Second Amendment rights, but rather ensure that those who own guns are properly trained for their own safety and the public’s.

Arizonans cannot afford to wait to act on the epidemic of gun violence in our state. Since Sandy Hook, there have been a staggering 2,321 mass shootings across the United States (Lopez & Sukumar, 2019). In 2019 alone, Arizona witnessed 6 mass shootings including in Phoenix, Yuma, and Tolleson (GVA, 2019). To enact state-wide firearm licensing and reduce the risks of gun violence in our state, we need everyone to raise their voices. The Arizona legislature will once again assemble on January 13, 2020.  Contact your legislators today and ask them to introduce a firearm licensing bill. You can reach your legislator at

Arizonans should never be faced with a situation like Sandy Hook.

Brian Pimpo, Katrina Garcia, Larissa Yugay, Michelle Dorsey, Stephanie Marsh are Masters of Public Health students at University of Arizona Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health.


  1. All gun control and licensing schemes are a violation of the 2nd amendment and will be met with fierce organized opposition.

    You do not need a license to protect yourself. You don’t need a license to exercise free speech. You don’t need a license for protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. You don’t need a license to guarantee that you won’t receive unreasonable fines. You don’t need a license to be found innocent before guilty or before being afforded a jury of peers. This article is ridiculous wish-making.

    Additionally comparing your personal rights under the constitution to an organized police force where it’s their job to wield weapons in force is disingenuous.

    Also, Sandy Hook was a crime committed by a person who stole another person’s legally acquired gun. None of what you listed would even help. It’s just heartstrings to tug on. “Think of the children.”

  2. How about a license before you’re allowed to buy a Qur’an? No? Then sit down and be quiet.

  3. Why do we as a society keep trying to instill more laws and restrictions on the folk who have NOT done anything wrong. Harsh punishment for violent behavior is more appropriate. Drunk driving deaths constantly exceed shooting deaths yet people aren’t required to get a license to consume alcohol. Maybe consider teaching people firearms safety as part of public SCHOOL in K-12 so that everyone can get trained to exercise their CONSTITUTIONALLY PROTECTED RIGHTS safely.

  4. and… just exactly how many criminals (who, by definition, DISOBEY law) do you expect to actually obey this proposed “mandatory licensing” law that you recommend?

  5. What part of CRIMINALS don’t obey the laws do you not understand? Are you REALLY that ignorant?

  6. I run a page on Facebook where I post true stories of Armed Citizens Fighting Back. On average someone uses a gun for self-defense over 2,500 times PER DAY.

    Do a quick Google search for this: 12-year-old defends home with a gun. You will get several hits. How much training and licensing do you suppose these young kids have received? With your stupid laws, you will only prevent someone like these kids from defending themselves.

  7. Ronald Reagan was surrounded by well-armed and trained Secret Service, and was shot by a teenager.

  8. Arizona gun owners are far more responsible and respect the 2nd Amendment, what this ludicrous proposal is nothing more than a knee jerk to past nationwide gun violence.
    ‘another Sandy Hook’—-really now?

    Gun violence needs to be MANDATED at the Federal Level, and still ‘we the peopl’ of AZ would continue to carry

  9. Behold the logic of higher education, absolute drivel.

  10. Seriously? Hell NO. Do you think the “bad guys” are going to abide by these regs? Then you’re smoking something.

  11. May I please see your First, Fourth, Thirteenth and Twenty-Sixth Amendment Permits, proof of background checks, training, testing, and receipts for fees paid to the government?

  12. While firearms ownership and carry restrictions have been rescinded, and sales soar, crime rates (including murder) have trended steadily downward for nearly 30 years. And accident rates have dropped steadily for far longer.

  13. “The United States has the highest rate of gun homicide in any developed country, and Americans are 25 times more likely to be a victim of gun homicide than other high income countries (Grinshteyn & Hemenway, 2016).”

  14. Well, well, well. Isn’t this a splendid example of leftist hubris and cherry picked disinformation.

    For every cite you offered in support of your contentions, gun owners could easily offer just as many others proving the opposite.

    Even a critical review of the contentious Johns Hopkins claim that the U.S. health care system is the third leading cause of death (at 250,000+ deaths annually) concluded:

    “Roughly 5,200 deaths a year from AEMT [Adverse Effects of Medical Treatment] and 108,000 deaths in which an AEMT was contributory are too many.”

    Amazingly, all of the responsible parties behind those AEMTs were tightly licensed and regulated. Few faced any adverse consequence for their medical misadventure. Do you suppose harsh new regulations, mandatory periodic retraining and exorbitantly high, universal malpractice insurance – not to mention fees/costs at every step of the process – would cure that ailment?

    Medicine accepts benefit-to-risk as a factor in deciding a treatment regimen, but you would rather ignore the beneficial effects of personal firearm ownership. Indeed, even the little data that can be captured (because defensive uses of firearms are not generally tracked) suggest a far higher benefit to society than a risk.

    If any of you are drawing a paycheck from the state of Arizona or any lesser political subdivision, you are arguably in violation of A.R.S. 38-231, which defines Job #1 for you. And for that malfeasance or subversion – if we still had “The Rule of Law” – there would be
    civil and criminal consequences.

    In any developed nation the criminal element comprises roughly 2% of the population. The overwhelming majority of gun owners don’t cause any problems. Your prescription is to punish the 98% because of the sins of the 2%. This approach is illogical and irrational. It’s a perversion of law and justice.

    Like most anti-gun agitators, you can’t wrap your minds around the simple fact that the definition of a criminal is a law breaker. Criminals don’t care about your silly laws.

    Let’s face it. You’re not motivated by concern over crime or public safety. You’re control freaks. Your target audience doesn’t purport to tell you how to live your lives, yet you – putting your contempt and hubris on full display – have no compunction about restricting
    their constitutional Right. Your ultimate objective is to get rid of all privately owned guns.

    “Masters of Public Health students….”

    Physician(s), heal thyself.

  15. Both in the military and as a law enforcement officer I carried a handgun almost constantly. As a Chief Investigator and having been previously accepted in administrative law court proceedings as an expert witness in statistics and research methods I conducted a number of research projects and studies; including actually talking to people. One project was a study of state gun laws and city ordinances compared to shooting incidents over time in 26 major cities. There are evil people in the world and there always will be. Gun licensing will not change this. A great many things are wrong with this article, way too many to discuss here, but I will mention two; first, I also recommend that anyone who buys a handgun for protection complete a closed-combat handgun course, but anyone who does so, does not need a classroom firearms safety course because safety will be included. Second is that the writers mention assault rifles, but my guess is they are actually talking about assault-style, or assault-appearing rifles, because actual assault rifles, that can fire full-auto, have been illegal for some years. The article is about what I would expect of a few grad students trying to apply facts to their personal opinions, and doing all of their research online. Like most university students (and I was once one) they are hiding in academia and apparently know very little about the real world. Compulsory gun licensing of guns owned by legal gun owners (who are the only ones who would comply anyhow), will have no impact on gun violence. I hope the students will at least receive some school credit for their efforts.

  16. Howabout those folks in Texas that had their unregistered firearms in church and stopped someone that was killing their fellow worshippers? Any “firearms registration act” that doesn’t reference the last firearms registration act done in Germany last century and follow through with the consequences of what happened after registration became confiscation, just shows how poorly the education system is teaching young people like the authors of this opine. Back then, undesirable people, or Germany’s basket of deplorables if you prefer, were forbidden from possessing guns. Then the round-ups, camps, and murder began.

    And just like then, referencing that this needs to be done “for the children” goes to show how weak the argument is for this usurpation of rights.

  17. The comment about The CDC’s stating homicides are on a steady rise is an erroneous source of facts. They do not separate suicides, justifiable homicide or plain accidental deaths. Justifiable Homicides are the biggest rise as there are more armed citizens defending themselves against criminals. These college kids are nothing more than leftist stooges and should not be considered a valid talking point. Arizonans have the best rights to firearms ownership and self defense in the country. Let our legislators know they have better leave them alone or at a minimum improve the rights, as an example, being allowed to shoot trespassers and thieves. Crime would be way down if common sense would be exercised.

  18. Hey, how about not burdening law abiding citizens with additional legal hurdles to exercise their God given rights? In fact, how about lessening the burden?
    Shall Not Be Infringed is the law; obey it.

  19. People should start learning the difference between men and women – who have Natural Rights recognized and protected by the US and Arizona Constitutions – and statutory ‘persons’, who do NOT have any. Do a word search of the ARS for man or woman. You’ll find that NOWHERE is a ‘person’ defined as a man or woman. That’s because statutes DO NOT APPLY to them. Statutes ONLY apply to fictional things called ‘persons’, which are corporations, partnerships, associations, trusts, LLC’s, things like that, and are created by the state – they are NOT men and women.

  20. Sounds like some Commiefornyans trying to turn Arizona blue. Stay across the river please, we do just fine here without uncontrolled liberalism destroying our state.

  21. Brian Pimpo, Katrina Garcia, Larissa Yugay, Michelle Dorsey, Stephanie Marsh, are NOT qualified to judge the merits of the meaning of what the intent of the Second Amendment actually was, by the Founders. They totally misunderstand that the Founders maintained that ALL colonists that wished to enjoy liberty being violated by the Crown, would possess the state of the art military firearms of the day. There were no prohibitions of any kind.

    These self anointed “experts” on public safety are basing their hysterics on the Sandy Hook event, of which I POSE SERIOUS questions as to the integrity of ALL reporting thereof. In this day of absolute theater and fakery, these anti-American confiscators can ONLY rely on the industry of LIES to propagate their agenda to disarm law abiding Americans, of which they hold only contempt for. Fables should NEVER be allowed to generate transgressions held precious by free people.

    ALL of these proposals to destroy liberty should be rejected, with prejudice.

  22. Americans have the right to keep and carry weapons in case of confrontation, see the federal Heller holding.

  23. Bad guys don’t follow laws, and under current laws shouldn’t have guns anyways. Taking away my right to protect my family will not make them any safer. What is so hard about that to understand? It’s a free country. If you don’t like our freedom you are free to leave and move to the socialist country of your choice.

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