Arizona: Pro-Gun Bills Scheduled for Hearings Tomorrow

“This week, the Arizona State Legislature has scheduled hearings for several important pro-gun bills. Bills scheduled for hearings include:

Senate Bill 1266, sponsored by state Senator Steve Smith (R-11), would improve the state firearms preemption law to ensure consistency throughout the Grand Canyon State. This would be done by providing a mechanism to declare unlawful regulations null and void in addition to providing penalties for knowing and willful violations by localities. SB 1266 is a much-needed protection that will help law-abiding gun owners ensure they are in compliance with the law. SB 1266 is scheduled for two hearings on Wednesday, February 3. The first hearing is at 9:00am in the Senate Public Safety, Military and Technology Committee and the second at 2:00pm in the Senate Government Committee.

Senate Bill 1257, sponsored by state Senator John Kavanagh (R-23), makes changes to existing law and expands the list of places where law-abiding gun owners can exercise their fundamental right to self-defense to include some additional public areas where certain security measures are not in place. SB 1257 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Government Committee at 2:00pm on February 3.

House Bill 2446, sponsored by state Representative David Livingston (R-22), makes necessary revisions to Arizona’s current definition of a “prohibited weapon” to exclude all firearms or devices that are legally possessed in compliance with the National Firearms Act (NFA). The technical correction made by HB 2446 changes the registration of NFA items from the Treasury Department to the appropriate Federal Agency in order to be compliant with current federal law. HB 2446 is scheduled for a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee at 9:00am on Wednesday, February 3.

House Bill 2494, sponsored by state Representative Steve Montenegro (R-13), would offer a tax credit for the costs incurred during the taxable year for training courses taken by the taxpayer, a spouse or a dependent, in order to apply and qualify for a permit to carry a concealed weapon in Arizona. HB 2494 was scheduled for a hearing in the House Ways and Means Committee​ yesterday, and is now being held in committee for further consideration.”

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Houston politician wants to change ‘stand your ground’ law

Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, was among only 13 lawmakers who voted against the Texas Stand Your Ground law when it passed in 2007.

A bill introduced Thursday is his attempt eight years later to stop what he feels have been the law’s unintended consequences.

“The problem we have is that there’s a perception of certain people that who they are makes them dangerous,” said Coleman. “You’ve seen people walk across the street to avoid certain people, which might be appropriate. But shooting them because they perceive that that individual is actually going to hurt them and have that be legal under the law is just not appropriate.”

Coleman filed House Bill 1627 on Thursday to modify the existing Stand Your Ground law. HB 1627, while not affecting the right to use deadly force in one’s home or “castle”, would allow the use of lethal force in other self-defense situations only if a person cannot safely retreat. Texas is one of nearly two dozen states that currently do not have a so-called duty to retreat before someone opts to use deadly force.

“People can’t be judge, jury and executioner,” Coleman said, referring to the current law that he says disproportionately puts a target on minorities. “You know they used to lynch people. And that was people taking the law into their own hands.”

In introducing HB 1627, Coleman mentioned the 2007 case of Joe Horn in Pasadena. Horn, despite a 911 operator pleading with him to stay inside his house and not confront the two burglars he was watching through a bedroom window as they robbed his neighbor’s house, exited his home armed with a shotgun and confronted the burglars as they ran away. He shot and killed them both and a Harris County grand jury chose not to indict him. Coleman says under his bill Horn would have been charged with a crime.

“I don’t blame anybody for being apprehensive. But apprehension should not give an individual the right to take someone’s life,” said Coleman.

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Missouri School Districts Start Train Teachers To Carry Concealed Weapons

In response to the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012 that left 20 children and six staff members dead, some school districts in Missouri have started training teachers to carry concealed weapons in classrooms.

For a $17,500 fee, districts that opt in to the 40-hour program receive training for two staffers from current law enforcement officers through the Shield Solutions training school. Teachers are required to spend five hours in a classroom and 35 hours on the range with the required firearm, a Glock 19 semi-automatic pistol. Ten districts have undergone the training thus far, with three more having signed contracts and even more in negotiations, according to The Kansas City Star.

After completing the program, qualified teachers then technically become Shield Solutions employees and receive a “nominal stipend,” Don Crowley, training supervisor for Shield Solutions, told The Huffington Post on Monday.

“They become an employee of Shield Solutions in that if they are called upon to dispatch a threat, then that is when they hold a duty to Shield Solutions to do so,” Crowley explained.

Moreover, only school district administrators, fellow program members and local law enforcement will be privy to the identities of the teachers trained to carry concealed weapons.

In an effort to avoid harming the wrong students, teachers will also be armed with a special type of bullet designed to lodge inside the first body it makes contact with.

Young school children will also be prohibited from hugging their teachers if they are carrying concealed weapons in order to avoid detection of the firearm.

“Kids in elementary age like to hug their teachers, but students cannot put their hands on you,” Crowley added. “They can knuckle bump, they can shake hands, but hugs are no longer appropriate.”

Since Sandy Hook, at least 74 school shootings have occurred, averaging more than one each week that school was in session.

In response, the Missouri Legislature passed a bill last month permitting trained teachers or administrators to carry concealed weapons in the classroom. The bill, which awaits Gov. Jay Nixon’s (D) signature, would also lower the age requirement for a concealed carry permit from 21 to 19.

Crowley viewed the legislation as unnecessary, however, calling the bill a “reiteration of a law that already exists under [Missouri Revised Statutes] Chapter 571, which says concealed weapons are unlawful unless the school board or the governing body of that school district okays it.”

Several states have approved similar legislation, despite opposition from many school administrators.

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Murder rate drops as concealed carry permits rise, study claims

A dramatic spike in the number of Americans with permits to carry concealed weapons coincides with an equally stark drop in violent crime, according to a new study, which Second Amendment advocates say makes the case that more guns can mean safer streets.

The study by the Crime Prevention Research Center found that 11.1 million Americans now have permits to carry concealed weapons, up from 4.5 million in 2007. The 146 percent increase has come even as both murder and violent crime rates have dropped by 22 percent.

“When you allow people to carry concealed handguns, you see changes in the behavior of criminals,” said the center’s president, John R. Lott, a Fox News contributor. “Some criminals stop committing crimes, others move on to crimes in which they don’t come into contact with victims and others actually move to areas where they have less fear of being confronted by armed victims.”

Increasing gun ownership, litigation and new state laws have all contributed to the rise in concealed carry permits. In March, Illinois became the 50th state to begin issuing concealed weapons permits. But the cost and other requirements for obtaining the permits varies greatly, from South Dakota, where a permit requires $10, a background check and no training, to Illinois, where the cost of obtaining a permit comes to more than $600 when the fee and cost of training programs are taken into account.

Six states don’t require a permit for legal gun owners to conceal their weapons, and Lott notes those states have some of the lowest violent crime rates in the nation.

The real measure of the deterrent effect of concealed carry permits, according to Lott, is not laws on the books, but the percentage of a given state’s population that holds the permits. In 10 states, more than 8 percent of adults hold concealed carry permits, and all are among the states with the lowest crime rates. Lott claims his group’s analysis shows that each one percentage point increase in the adult population holding permits brings a 1.4 percent drop in the murder rate.

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Federal Judge, Considers D.C. Ban on Carrying Guns in Public Unconstitutional

A federal judge has declared that one of the District’s principal gun control laws is unconstitutional and ordered that its enforcement be halted.

The ruling by Judge Frederick J. Scullin Jr., made public Saturday, orders the city to end its prohibition against carrying a pistol in public.

It was not clear what immediate effect the order would have.

The order was addressed to the District of Columbia and Police Chief Cathy Lanier, as well as their employees and officers and others “who receive actual notice” of the ruling. But it could not be determined Sunday who had received notice. Also unclear was whether the city would appeal and what effect that would have on the enforcement ban.

Legal sources said Saturday night that in general all parties to a case must be duly informed of a ruling and given the opportunity to appeal before it takes effect.

Alan Gura, the lawyer who represents the group challenging the ban, said Sunday that he believes the ruling to be in effect immediately. “The decision is in effect, unless and until the court stays its decision,” he said. “This is now a decision that the city is required to follow — the idea that the city can prohibit absolutely the exercise of a constitutional right for all people at all times, that was struck down. That’s just not going to fly.”

Citing studies of the number of registered gun owners who commit crimes, Gura said that he believes allowing citizens to carry handguns on the street for the purpose of self-defense will lead to a decrease in crimes.

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Concealed carry applicants to get more information about rejections

Citing a flood of lawsuits from applicants who were denied concealed carry permits because of objections from local law enforcement that were shrouded in secrecy, the Illinois State Police announced Monday that it will require a state review board to give more information about why applications are rejected.

The amendments direct the board to notify an applicant if their application is likely to be denied, giving them an opportunity to refute the objection.

The new rules, filed Thursday as emergency amendments and distributed publicly on Monday, are already in effect, according to the state police.

Under the previous system, the seven-member Concealed Carry Licensing Review Board met behind closed doors to consider objections raised by local officials, including an individual’s arrest record or other run-ins with police that did not result in criminal convictions. If the board sustained an objection, the applicant was notified by mail that their application had been denied, without any explanation as to why. Applicants were told that their only recourse was to take the matter to court, and more than 200 denied applicants sued.

The new rules were put in place less than a week after a Tribune report detailed the issue. State police spokeswoman Monique Bond said the board and the attorney general’s office “have been working on these rules for some time.”

Under the new rules, the board is required to notify an applicant if there is a credible objection to his or her application, give the basis of the objection and identify the agency that brought it. The applicant will have 10 days to respond.

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Idaho colleges get ready for concealed weapons

A new Idaho state law takes effect July 1 and applies to people with an enhanced license to carry concealed weapons, along with retired law enforcement officers.

Public colleges and universities in Idaho are getting ready to comply with a new state law they strongly opposed: allowing concealed weapons to be carried on campus.

The law takes effect July 1 and applies to people with an enhanced license to carry concealed weapons, along with retired law-enforcement officers. College leaders universally opposed the law, but pro-gun-rights lawmakers pushed it through the Legislature this year.

Now college administrators and campus-security departments are preparing for the new reality: guns in lecture halls, labs, offices, cafeterias — everywhere but dormitories and entertainment venues with seating for more than 1,000, like stadiums and auditoriums.

“We intend to follow the law. Really, we don’t discuss the merits of the law. That was done, the law passed. We’re talking about implementation,” said Matt Dorschel, executive director of public safety and security at the University of Idaho in Moscow.

Higher-education leaders are revising campus-weapons policies to comply with the new law, although bans on openly carrying guns are expected to remain in effect.

Some colleges also plan to beef up their security. North Idaho College (NIC) in Coeur d’Alene will provide its security officers with bulletproof vests plus training related to concealed-weapon laws, and it may expand its seven-person security force by one full-time and one part-time position.

NIC also is mulling whether to arm its security workers for the first time, said Alex Harris, director of student development.

“I don’t know if we’ll go that direction, but it’s definitely out there and we’re considering it,” Harris said.

Another option, he said, is to work with the Coeur d’Alene Police Department to station a school resource officer on campus, similar to the officers present in middle and high schools.

All of these measures are unforeseen expenses at a time of budget cuts due to falling enrollment, Harris said. NIC’s enrollment this year dropped 11 percent from the previous school year — a trend that corresponds to the improving economy.

The vests will cost about $8,000, and arming and training security officers would cost $10,000 a year. The new security officers, or a school resource officer, would cost about $60,000 a year.

The 12,000-student University of Idaho anticipates no significant changes for its security force. The Moscow Police Department can respond quickly to emergencies on campus, and a university task force implementing the new law is not likely to recommend arming campus security, Dorschel said.

“We don’t think that anything about the law would impact our need to have other armed responders on campus,” he said.

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NRA seeks universal gun law at national meeting

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — With concealed weapons now legal in all 50 states, the National Rifle Association’s focus at this week’s annual meeting is less about enacting additional state protections than on making sure the permits already issued still apply when the gun owners travel across the country.

The nation’s largest gun-rights group, which officially opens its meeting of about 70,000 people Friday in Indianapolis, wants Congress to require that concealed weapons permits issued in one state be recognized everywhere, even when the local requirements differ. Advocates say the effort would eliminate a patchwork of state-specific regulations that lead to carriers unwittingly violating the law when traveling.

“Right now it takes some legal research to find out where you are or are not legal depending on where you are,” said Guy Relford, an attorney who has sued communities for violating an Indiana law that bars local gun regulation. “I don’t think that’s right.”

Opponents fear the measure would allow more lenient gun regulations to trump stricter ones when permit holders travel across state lines.

“It’s a race to the bottom,” said Brian Malte, senior national policy director for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “It’s taking the lowest standards.”

The push for reciprocity comes as the gun rights lobby is arguably stronger than ever before, with more than 5 million dues-paying members.

The NRA has successfully defeated numerous gun-control efforts in recent years, even after the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. With midterm elections looming, the organization’s legislative wish list likely will be somewhat more modest than usual this year.

The “reciprocity” effort on state concealed carry laws has strong support from Senate Republicans but narrowly missed being amended into last year’s proposed expansion of gun sale background checks. Still, it faces long odds in Washington because Democrats control the Senate and White House.

Following a federal judge’s ruling striking down Illinois’ ban on concealed weapons, the Legislature last summer passed the nation’s final law allowing them.

Illinois is among at least 10 states that currently don’t recognize permits issued elsewhere, according to the NRA’s website. Most others recognize permits from only a portion of the other states.

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Conceal carry confusion: Some parks missing `no guns` signs

Illinois’ new concealed carry law has been in effect for several months now, but it appears there is still confusion over some of its requirements.

A ‘no guns allowed’ sign is posted in a tiny public park in Downers Grove attached to the larger park district sign.

Yet right next door in Lombard, there are no signs banning guns nor are there any signs up in Maywood’s public parks — a community that’s seen plenty of gun violence.

“If you were to look at the one common thread in this legislation, it’s confusion,” Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart says. “It was messed up from day one and it still is today.”

Dart says the concealed carry bill passed by the state legislature last year is a mishmash of confusing language when it comes to requirements placed on municipalities and park districts.

“There’s wildly inconsistent behavior here as far as people not knowing what to do,” Dart says.

The statute includes a list of 23 places where concealed carry is prohibited, including public parks, playgrounds, libraries and schools.

The statute also requires ‘no guns’ signs be posted at those places. And while we found the signs at one public park in Homewood, the vast majority of parks we checked have no signs at all.

There is no enforcement mechanism in the law and no state agency to check whether the law is being followed. Nor is there any deadline to post the signs.

Richard Pearson of the Illinois State Rifle Association says local park districts and other agencies are being made aware of the law through professional associations and questions whether all that signage is even needed.

Sheriff Dart is opposed to the bill, so he’s trying to pick it apart any way he can,” Pearson says.

“Every person that takes a concealed carry class has to go through that section and knows all the prohibited areas.”

Anyone with a concealed carry permit caught in those prohibited areas could lose their license and face a Class B misdemeanor.

A spokesperson for the Chicago Park District says they’ll begin putting up signs prohibiting guns in all public parks in the next few weeks.

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Gun instructors lose certification after students report too-short training

Two downstate firearms instructors have been decertified for failing to provide the required amount of training to students seeking concealed carry firearms permits, Illinois State Police announced today.

Ninety-eight students certified by the instructors did not get the full 16 hours of training required by the state to carry a hidden handgun in public, police stated in a news release.

The instructors’ names were not released, but their cases were referred to the St. Clair County State’s Attorney’s office in Belleville, near St. Louis.

Prosecutors were reviewing a range of options, police said, including cease and desist letters, restitution or criminal prosecution. Police said students reported the short-cut.

“The people of good faith who have come forward believe in law abiding, responsible gun ownership and will ensure that the integrity of concealed carry training is upheld and not twisted into a means to defraud consumers,” State’s Attorney Brendon Kelly stated in the release.

While many concealed carry students may have had prior experience, police said, students are not eligible to get credit for prior training.

State police were in the process of notifying the students that their training is invalid and their applications will be denied.

“Anyone caught abusing the system could potentially face state and federal fraud charges,” state police Director Hiram Grau warned.

Statewide, about 52,000 people have applied for concealed carry licenses, and police have awarded more than 12,000.

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