To embattled gun enthusiasts around the U.S. who believe firearms are essential to their personal security and freedom, Arizona looks like the closest thing to nirvana, says the Arizona Republic in the first of a five-part series. To those who worry that more firearms and fewer restrictions are a recipe for crime and violence, Arizona might as well be on another planet. Many struggle to understand the lenient attitudes toward guns in the state, particularly after the Jan. 8 mass shooting that killed six people and wounded 13, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Jared Loughner, the 22-year-old man accused of shooting with a Glock 9mm handgun with an extended magazine, has been deemed mentally unfit to stand trial.
“There’s a different view of guns out here than there is back East,” said Bob Corbin, a former Arizona attorney general and Maricopa County attorney who served as National Rifle Association president in the early 1990s. “People who are here or come from the East are a different breed. Many are coming out to start a new life. It takes courage to do that, and a lot of people don’t have it. They’d rather stay home and live with Mother. Arizonans, I think, are different. We’re more for freedom.” Arizona’s gun laws are the product of decades of the state’s pro-gun politics, culture, economy, and history. Those powerful factors over time have helped shape a long-standing attitude among many in Arizona that a person’s ability to own a gun is a right that should be respected, defended and even expanded.