‘Please check you don’t have a firearm in your carry-on’
Arizona has permitless carry and honours concealed carry permits from other states
The day before the first anniversary of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas – the deadliest of its kind since the one at Sandy Hook a decade prior – I sat in Phoenix Sky Harbour airport and heard the following announcement over and over: “Please check you don’t have a firearm, knife or weapon in your carry-on.”
Or words to that effect.
It was a rude reminder of where I was. In Phoenix, which boasts it has “America’s friendliest airport”, but also in a state that has permitless carry. That’s to say any person who is at least 18 years old and can legally possess a firearm may open carry. In Arizona, anyone at least 21 years old may concealed carry a firearm without a permit. The state also honours concealed carry permits from all other states and political subdivisions.
Arizona Republic columnist Laurie Roberts recently noted that despite the “carnage” of mass shootings, there are “No requirements to strengthen background checks in Arizona. No state initiatives to try to better identify those with mental issues who should never be allowed access to guns. No push to regulate the sale of high-capacity magazines or even to require the safe storage of weapons”.
In fact, the Republican Party-controlled Arizona Legislature, she added, spent a great deal of time last month pushing a package of “reforms” that included “a bill to remove gun silencers from a state list of prohibited weapons, allow parents to bring guns into schools and punish banks that don’t want to do business with the firearms industry”.
So to those airport announcements reminding forgetful passengers to pack their guns, knives and weapons into their check-in bags! Geez.
Despite each grim American anniversary of a mass shooting, Arizona, like much of America’s political system, fails to enact gun-control policies. But, make no mistake, gun control measures are popular with ordinary Americans. A new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll of nearly 1,300 adults, conducted in the run-up to the first anniversary of the Uvalde school shooting, found the highest percentage of Americans in a decade saying it’s more important to curb gun violence than protect gun rights.
Meanwhile, not only is America running out of adjectives to describe each gun massacre, its politicians are running out of excuses for their failure to restrict and regulate gun use.