May 26, 2004
The National Rifle Association is targeting 15 state senators who refused Tuesday to support its plan to let people carry their guns where alcohol is served.
NRA lobbyist Darren LaSorte said his organization will "absolutely" work for the defeat at the polls of those who did not back SB1210.
"Our members expect us to," he said.
LaSorte said the NRA will even work against association members who did not toe the party line on this issue.
But several of the foes said Tuesday’s defeat was unnecessary.
They said the NRA could have gotten what it wanted — guns in bars and restaurants that serve liquor — if they had agreed to a single compromise: Allow weapons on premises only when business owners specifically give permission.
But LaSorte would agree only to an opt-out provision: Guns are presumed OK unless the owner posts signs banning them.
Sen. Carolyn Allen, RScottsdale, said that made it unacceptable to the owners of bars, restaurants and resorts in her district. And Allen said the entire concept is questionable.
"I don’t think it’s a good idea to give guns to people who are drinking," she said.
The legislation would have required those who have weapons, either concealed or open, not to drink. And Sen. Dean Martin, R-Phoenix, said changing the law is designed to help people protect themselves.
LaSorte said that the NRA has no choice but to seek defeat of those who oppose its position.
"This was one of those litmus test issues where you’re either emotional or you look to the facts in other states, which the facts in the other states are, absolutely no problems," he said.