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Governor Brewer Signs Multiple New Firearms Laws in Arizona.

May 5, 2011 Uncategorized Comments Off

Governor Jan Brewer signed a total of six new firearms related laws in the days following the end of the current session of the Arizona Legislature.  While some of the most controversial laws, specifically the Firearms Omnibus Bill and Campus Concealed Carry bills were vetoed by Governor Brewer, below you can find a synopsis of the bills she did sign…

House Bill 2006 - Repeals ARS 17-305 which prohibits the carrying of firearms and “game-taking devices” in game refuges in Arizona.  While this law was originally thought of in terms of an ‘anti-poaching’ law, the effect was that anyone in a game refuge, which in many cases was in a wilderness area, was effectively disarmed and unable to defend themselves, not only from animal predators, but from the ‘two-legged’ variety of predators as well.  This was seen as a particular dangerous issue in certain areas of the state near the Mexican border.  While anti-poaching laws are still very much in effect, the repeal of ARS 17-305 decriminalizes the simple possession of a firearm.

House Bill 2146 – This bill eliminates the legal requirement for the Arizona Department of Public Safety to approve CCW training courses, designate DPS approved training organizations and designated DPS approved CCW instructors.  Essentially, this law provides that anyone who is an NRA Certified Instructor is now able to teach firearms safety courses that can be used to satisfy the training requirement to be issued an Arizona CCW Permit by the Department of Public Safety.  It also clarified and further expanded what satisfies the training requirement.  Without going into the full details of the law, it pretty much states that if you take a firearm safety course offered by anyone who is an NRA Instructor or a DPS Approved Instructor, you satisfy the training requirement.  Of course, taking any Law Enforcement or Security Guard course meets the requirement as well.  If you can show proof of either current or past honorable military service or show proof of having a valid or expired concealed weapons permit or firearms identification card from any other state or political subdivision that has a training requirement for issuance, that will do the trick as well.

House Bill 2645 – This bill made minor amendments to ARS 13-3105 that details the process of Forfeiture of weapons and explosives used by convicted felons during the commission of a crime.  The original law authorizes the state to dispose of forfeited weapons by sale to any business that is authorized to receive and dispose of weapons and that those weapons can be sold by those businesses to the public unless the weapon is otherwise prohibited under federal or state law.  The amendment simply removed the words “local law” which was previously in the original statute.

Senate Bill 1334 – This law modified the original statute ARS 13-3107 dealing with unlawful discharge of a firearm to remove the ability of local police chiefs of a municipality from closing an hunting area within their city limits at their own discretion if they felt that hunting in the area would be unsafe.  It does not limit the ability of a local city or town from passing an ordinance that does not permit the discharge of a firearm within a quarter-mile of any occupied structure.

Senate Bill 1469 – This law made several changes to ARS 13-406 which deals with Justification while in defense of a third person.  It eliminated the requirement that “a reasonable person would believe that such person’s intervention is immediately necessary to protect the third person”.

It also clarifies that a person is deemed to be acting reasonably when such person reasonably believes that the third party is in imminent or actual danger as a result of a another person committing a crime of arson of an occupied structure, burglary in the second degree, burglary in the first degree, kidnapping, manslaughter, second or first degree murder, sexual conduct with a minor, sexual assault, child molestation, armed robbery or aggravated assault.

It further clarifies that justification applies when there is the use or threatened us of physical force or deadly physical force in a person’s home, residence, place of business, land the person owns or leases, conveyance of any kind, or any other place in this state where the person has a right to be.  It further clarifies that someone either unlawfully or forcefully entering a residential structure or occupied vehicle is presumed to pose an imminent threat of deadly harm to anyone in the residence structure or occupied vehicle.  This provides Arizona with one of the strongest “Castle Doctrine” laws in the United States.

Senate Bill 1610 – This law establishes the Colt Single Action Army Revolver as the official state firearm.

Only two of these bills create significant changes in Arizona law.  House Bill 2146 effectively deregulates who can become an instructor of firearms safety courses and what type of material must be taught in a firearms safety course curriculum.  It effectively permits any NRA certified instructor to teach firearms safety courses that will satisfy the training requirement for issuance of a CCW permit.  It also completely removes any specific requirements for what needs to be covered in the curriculum of a firearms safety course.

The upside of this law is that it is now very easy to satisfy the training requirement for an Arizona CCW Permit.  The downside is that there is now no enforcement capability by DPS if an instructor is incompetent or outright dangerous in what he or she is teaching.  Also, since there are no specific guidelines as to what should be included in the firearms safety course curriculum, quality of the content of courses may vary widely with some courses offering a great deal of valuable education while others might be essentially worthless.  Imagine if the same overall logic were introduced into drivers license education programs and driving instructors could develop their own curriculums and pass or fail students based on their curriculum without any minimum requirement in place by the DMV.  In my personal view, the opportunity for abuse is high.  I also believe that it will result in an overall decline in the quality of firearms education for the consumer.  I have already seen this as many formerly high quality training organizations have reduced their classes to a four hour bare bones firearms safety class with a minimal discussion of the legal issues associated with the use of lethal force.  By the way, did I mention that most of the training organizations are charging the same fee for the bare bones class as they charged for the original “DPS approved” eight hour course?

The second law with a major impact is Senate Bill 1469.  This law really broadens the presumption of justification in the event that a person would either need to go to the aid of a third party that is being threatened.  It further creates one of the strongest “Castle Doctrine” laws in the US by stating that it is PRESUMED that any person that unlawfully or forcefully enters a residence or occupied vehicle is BY DEFINITION a lethal threat to anyone in the residence or occupied vehicle.  This was a much needed clarification since previously there was a need to show that there was, in fact, a deadly threat before lethal force could be used.  Kudos to Senator Ron Gould for introducing this valuable piece of clarifying legislation.

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