State Senate OKs eased concealed weapons measure - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

State Senate OKs eased concealed weapons measure

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Posted: Thursday, April 24, 2008 11:12 pm | Updated: 11:36 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

The decision whether to reduce the penalty for carrying a concealed weapon illegally is now up to the governor.

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Without comment, the state Senate voted 17-10 Wednesday to make it only a petty offense for someone without a state permit to carry a gun that is not plainly visible. That carries a maximum fine of $300.

Under current law, offenders can be jailed for up to six months and fined up to $2,500.

The measure, which already has gained House approval, now goes to Gov. Janet Napolitano.

She is expected to be lobbied heavily by the police agencies who urged lawmakers, unsuccessfully, to kill HB2630.

But they may have better luck with her than they did with lawmakers: Napolitano vetoed an identical measure just last year.

Arizona law generally allows anyone to carry a weapon in the open.

Those that wish to be armed but not display the gun must get a permit. That involves a background check as well as training, including actually demonstrating the ability to handle a gun and fire it.

John Wentling, who lobbies for the Arizona Citizens Defense League, said many people charged with illegally concealing a gun had no intention of hiding their weapons. He said it is possible a gun on the seat of a car, legally permissible when visible, might be inadvertently covered by a jacket.

But John Thomas, who lobbies for the Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police, said reducing the penalty to a fine will only embolden people to purposely carry concealed weapons without bothering to get the necessary state permit.

The measure is just one of several efforts this session to ease state gun laws.

HB2389 would allow people to legally have weapons anywhere in their vehicles, open or hidden, whether or not they have a permit. That measure already has been approved by the House.

Another measure passed by the House, HB2629, would let people unholster and "display" their weapons if they feared attack without being charged with disorderly conduct.

A third bill, as crafted, would let anyone with a concealed weapons permit carry their guns onto the campuses of public schools, community colleges and universities. But SB1214 has stalled amid stiff opposition on several fronts.

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