PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona residents are one step closer to getting a tax credit for attending a firearms safety class after Republican lawmakers passed a measure offering a dollar-for-dollar credit for concealed-carry permit holders Monday.
A House panel passed the tax credit in what could become the first of its kind in the country, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
House Majority Leader Steve Montenegro, R-Litchfield Park, sponsored the bill to create a tax credit up to $80 for people who get a concealed weapons permit. The measure would only affect those who get the permit after it is enacted.
The Republican lawmaker said his measure encourages gun safety and education.
"I think that these are lessons in firearm safety that are appropriate for the next generation of firearm users."
When asked about the cost by Rep. Bruce Wheeler, D-Tucson, Montenegro said "You know, you can't really put a price on safety."
Rep. Justin Olson, R-Mesa, said legislative analysts estimate the measure would cost the state about $1.9 million.
That's based on an assumption that only 75 percent of the more than 32,000 people that registered for concealed carry permits last year would get the tax credit.
Wheeler said he's not only concerned about the cost, he's worried that it would encourage more people to use firearms in active shooter situations.
"We don't know how to separate the good guy from the bad guy holding that weapon," he said.
At least two Republican lawmakers said they were hesitant to vote for a tax credit but passed the measure anyway.
The House Ways and Means Committee initially delayed consideration of House Bill 2494 on Monday then decided to hear the measure. It passed on a 5-4 vote and now undergoes a standard review before going to the Senate.
State officials say Arizona has more than 250,000 registered carriers as of January. To get a permit, individuals must be over 21, go through a background check and have some firearms training.