| Crime |

Arizona and Guns Go Together: State Laws Give Firearms Owners Legal Cover

Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Phoenix and help keep the future of New Times free.

Arizona's gun laws are on national display following Saturday's shooting, but whether they're "weak" or "strong" depends on whom you ask.

According to an article today in the Los Angeles Times , "Arizona has some of the weakest gun-control laws in the nation." (Emphasis ours.)

Put that way, it's certainly true. Here's a run-down on some of Arizona's "liberal" gun laws:

* Any legal resident 21 or older can buy a handgun. (Except for prohibited possessors, like convicted felons.) Rifles can be bought starting at age 18.

* There's no waiting period to buy guns. Once the background check is approved by computer, customers are free to buy.

* For most guns, no registration is required. (Federally controlled firearms, like machine-guns, require extra paperwork.)

* Gun stores are ubiquitous throughout the state. They're for sale at sporting goods stores, gun stores, in classified ads, and at gun shows. Want a semiautomatic M-16? Nothing stopping you from picking one up except for the price-tag. We saw one for $599 over the weekend at one local store.

* Guns are readily available in most states, thanks to the Second Amendment. Arizona's not so different in the basic ability to find and buy a gun. But Arizona's laws are more "liberal" than most. For example, it's one of a few states in which you can carry your gun openly in most places. It's rare, but not shocking, to see someone sporting a cowboy gun in a hip holster.

* A new law allows non-felons to carry concealed weapons most anywhere without the concealed-carry permit required previously. The law doesn't limit how many guns, or what kind, you can conceal. With federal exceptions, whatever fits under the trenchcoat is okay.

* Arizona is one of only two states that specifically allows guns to be brought into drinking establishments, according to the New York Times. However, the person with the gun in the bar can't be drinking, under the law.

* High-capacity, 31-round magazines, like the one used by shooter Jared Loughner, banned in some states, are freely available. There's no limit on how many you can buy.

* Another new law, passed last year, allows people to display a firearm -- or threaten verbally to use a gun -- when confronted with a threat. Before that one was signed by Governor Jan Brewer, local lawyer O. Joseph Chornenky tells us, displaying a gun was serious business. One Phoenix man received 3 1/2 years in prison for putting a gun on his dashboard during a road-rage incident, he says. Now, pulling out a gun to threaten someone who threatened you, even if the initial threat only involved fisticuffs, is legal in Arizona.

If gun laws are "weak," Arizona self-defense laws could be described as strong. Not only can you legally shoot someone who's threatening you with deadly force, but you can kill people commiting a range of other crimes, from arson to child molestation.

Think the state Legislature will "toughen up" gun laws in the wake of Saturday's shooting? It seems more likely that the opposite will occur.

Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.