The wild, wild West

By Leigh Flayton
Published March 5, 2005 12:15AM (EST)

It's been a pretty loaded week for legislative activity in Arizona.

On Tuesday, the Grand Canyon State's House of Representatives approved a measure that would have allowed Arizonans to carry guns, rockets, grenades and other firearms into public buildings, including schools, nuclear power plants, as well as the House and Senate, as long as the weapons were carried for protection and without "malicious intent."

On Wednesday, HB 2666's sponsor, Rep. Doug Quelland (R-Phoenix), killed his own bill. Saying it "did more harm than good," Quelland initially proposed the bill to ease restrictions on gun owners and to protect those with concealed-weapons permits if they "inadvertently" took their guns into prohibited areas. One of the bill's provisions sought to exempt people carrying weapons in fanny packs -- yes, fanny packs -- as long as the fanny pack, "carrying a deadly weapon," was visible.

Quelland, who is currently serving his second term, inspired condemnation from Arizona Democrats last year when he delivered a prayer on the House floor to open the legislative session. In the prayer, which had been circulating for years on the Internet, Quelland denounced multiculturalism, abortion and "alternative lifestyle[s]." It's unknown whether he was packing while delivering his speech, although his "prayer" -- at least according to state Democrats, who filed an official protest -- packed malicious intent.

Meanwhile the state Senate passed a different bill on Thursday making it legal to carry a loaded weapon into a bar or restaurant that serves alcohol, as long as the gunslinger doesn't drink. The bill passed by a vote of 17-11 and now moves on to the House where supporters are confident there are enough votes for passage.

"There are already guns in bars and restaurants now, but they are brought in by the criminals," said Sen. Ron Gould, R-Lake Havasu, who supported Senate Bill 1363, according to The Arizona Republic. "If we don't allow law-abiding citizens to protect themselves, we're doing a great disservice to the public."

Leigh Flayton

Leigh Flayton is editor in chief of Arizona Monthly magazine.

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