At noon on July 18, a new Arizona gun law will take effect that some gun owners will misinterpret as another attempt to pirate their Second Amendment rights.
But we believe the new law, enacted as SB 1307 otherwise known as Shannon's Law is common-sense legislation with the noble intent to save lives.
The concept of the law was born out of tragedy when a young girl, Shannon, lost her life because of a careless act of random gunfire. Her parents, family and friends petitioned for more severe penalties when someone is convicted of such an act.
Under Shannon's, the old strict-liability class 2 misdemeanor charge for firing a gun within city limits is eliminated. After July 18, the punishment for firing a gun in or into a city or town, with criminal negligence, recklessness, knowledge or intent, will be raised to a class 1 misdemeanor or a class 6 felony, at the discretion of the prosecutor.
It seems obvious to us, and should to all responsible gun owners, that firing a weapon aimlessly into the air within a populated area should carry severe penalties. People can, and have died because of some people's witless acts.
Our society recognizes driving drunk as irresponsible and reckless. Firing a gun haphazardly into the air is much the same as getting behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated. Both create an unacceptably high risk of killing innocent lives.
This Independence Day, while Shannon's Law may not be officially activated until July 18, we hope the spirit of the law will be honored by all Rim country residents. Everyone plays an important role in the success of Shannon's Law. Authors of the bill expressed concern that it would only be effective if citizens have the courage to speak up when they witness a violation.
Don't be reluctant to save lives this Fourth of July holiday and all year round. Be smart with your firearms, and report those who aren't.