A Republican lawmaker in Arizona has a grand new plan to “promote public safety" by offering a tax credit to people who obtain a license to carry concealed weapons.
If signed into law, House Bill 2494 would require that the state reimburse Arizonans up to $80 for the costs associated with obtaining or renewing a CCW permit.
It’s a prospect supporters say will make every resident in Arizona safer but that critics call absurd and “the last thing we need in this state.”
By law, adults in Arizona don’t need a CCW permit to carry concealed weapons, but House Majority leader Steve Montenegro, who introduced HB 2494 earlier this week and remains the only official sponsor, told the Capitol Times that there are benefits to having one.
Not only does it allow a person to carry a weapon in a bar or other venue serving alcohol, but here in Arizona, “we want to promote people being educated in having CCW permits [because] we value those that are able to take these classes and help us with safety,” Montenegro said.
Montenegro declined to comment for this article.
But state Senator Steve Farley, who has been an outspoken critic of looser gun laws, says he doesn’t understand “why this is a priority” for Republican lawmakers.
“Considering that the governor has refused to add thousands of children in poverty onto healthcare even though the federal government would pay for it . . . and that we refuse to fund vocational education for high school students and keep saying we don’t have the money to fund [the Temporary Cash Assistance for Needy Families program], I’m not clear why we would be buying peoples’ right to a concealed weapon,” he says.
“This is not one of the priorities the state should have.”
Republicans in the state always are talking about having a balanced budget, he continues, and since the costs associated with the tax break could potentially cost the state millions in revenue every year, well, he pauses: “I just don’t know what they’re thinking.”
Montenegro told the Capitol Times that if we want to promote public safety, “we can’t put a price on any lives.”
According to the Arizona Department of Public Safety, 251,333 people have CCW permits in Arizona.
Montenegro also justified his bill by arguing that “law enforcement has told us time and time again that the first line of defense are those that carry CCW permits,” a claim Farley says is patently false.
“I have never heard anyone say that,” he says. “What [officers do] say is that the more people on the scene of a mass shooting with guns, the harder it is to take down the bad guy” and do their jobs.
“I don’t doubt that Montenegro believes that people actually are safer when more people have guns, but I think most of the facts would disagree," he says, adding that while he's confident the bill will pass in the House, he hopes there are enough lawmakers with “common sense” to block it in the Senate.
“[Not only] is a society of vigilantism the last thing we need at a time when people are becoming more susceptible to the sirens of hate for those who don’t look like them or sound like them,” he says, “but as long as our schools are struggling and we have sky high rates of poverty, we just have other priorities we should be spending our money on.”