The existing legal landscape
Under current law, most people over the age of 21 can carry concealed firearms only after completing a background check and taking firearms training and safety classes. More than 154,000 people in Arizona have taken these steps and have concealed-carry permits. Gun owners caught carrying a hidden gun without a permit can currently face up to six months in jail and a $2,500 fine.
Illinois and Wisconsin are the only two states that prohibit concealed firearms. Another 45 states have laws similar to Arizona's current statutes. This year, Arizona will join Alaska and Vermont in allowing concealed firearms without a permit.
The new Arizona rules on training and background checks
The new law will end the training and background check requirements for people in Arizona who want to carry concealed weapons. Under federal law, a background check is required before buying a gun from a licensed dealer, so a concealed-carry permit will still streamline gun purchases. However, there is an exemption for sellers who are not licensed dealers, and the Arizona governor recently signed a separate law exempting guns made and carried in Arizona from federal background check requirements.
There are still restrictions. People must tell police officers they are carrying concealed guns if the officers ask. Also, law enforcement officials can temporarily take the weapon. Concealed weapons will still be barred on any public or private property with posted signs barring firearms. There are also no guns allowed at national monuments, Indian reservations, schools and other sites.
Arizona will maintain its permit system, and permits are needed for carrying a weapon into any establishment that serves alcohol and for carrying concealed guns across state lines. However, the new law loosens the regulations for permits as well. Firearm training is still required for obtaining a permit, but the course no longer must have a set number of hours or include hands-on weapons training.
Why Arizona is changing the law
Supporters of the permit-free concealed-weapons law label the new freedom constitutional carry. They believe the new law protects gun owners' constitutional rights, and helps protect potential victims from criminals. Police unions support the law, and many officers argue that the state will be safer if more law-abiding citizens are able to protect themselves.
Others are worried that lessened training requirements will lead to more accidental shootings and gun mishaps.