March 24, 2005
A bill to allow gun owners to take their weapons in liquor establishments is touted by supporters as an equalizer to criminals who ignore the ban and sneak in firearms.
However, an Arizona State University professor says research at a Maricopa County jail indicates criminals aren’t carrying firearms into bars. While the evidence is still preliminary, random surveys of inmates show a large number of them carry guns, but not into bars or restaurants, said Charles Katz, director of ASU’s graduate program in criminal justice and criminology.
SB1363 would allow someone legally carrying a firearm to enter a business with a liquor license unless that location posts a sign forbidding weapons. However, it would be illegal for an armed person to drink alcohol inside such a business. The bill was narrowly approved in the Senate and is scheduled to be heard today in the House Judiciary Committee.
Several lawmakers have claimed everyone should be able to to defend themselves from criminals who might be carrying guns illegally in bars and restaurants.
A review of 91 interviews shows that one in four suspects carried a gun at least once in the last year, Katz said. But only 5.6 percent of them carried that weapon into a bar or restaurant.
"Arrestees may be aware there’s a line there not to be crossed," Katz said. "As far as some people’s comments that people need (firearms) in bars because the other criminals in bars are carrying guns, we’re just not finding evidence for that."