Guns Are Everywhere in Arizona

Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik
AP Photo
TUCSON, Ariz. - Arizona, the Grand Canyon State, is known for its big mountains and blue skies, but its reputation lately is expanding into some controversial corners.

CBS News correspondent Dean Reynolds reports that Arizona has among the most permissive gun laws in the nation.

The right to keep and bear arms extends to weapons in cars, restaurants, even bars.

Finding a list of gun-friendly establishments is as easy as clicking the mouse on your computer. You can go on a shopping spree armed from store to store - the argument being that carrying weapons enhances security.

There are now proposals are pending in the state legislature in Arizona that would allow college faculty and college students like those at the University of Arizona to carry concealed weapons on campus.

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"There's a lot of drinking going on in campus," said Araceli Garcia, a freshman at the Univesity of Arizona. "It just wouldn't be safe."

Tom Volgy, former Mayor of Tucson, agrees, saying he worries about greater access to weapons like the Glock semi-automatic used in Saturday's shooting rampage here that left six dead and many more wounded.

When asked whether we would welcome students and faculty carrying concealed weapons on campus, Volgy said: "Oh good god no. I think in the state of Arizona it's easier to purchase a weapon like that than it is to get a driver's license."

Firearms and the ability to use them are employed to make political points too. Pamela Gorman, a Tea Party congressional hopeful, said prominently in a campaign message that she was a good shot.

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' Republican opponent in the 2010 election, encouraging voters to remove her from office, once invited voters to shoot a fully automatic M-16 with him.

Where opponents are deemend enemies and issues like immigration and health care stoke passions, it's no wonder Arizona law enforcement worries about the effect such a combustible mixture of guns and emotion can have on some minds.

"People who are unbalanced may be especially susceptible to vitriol," said Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik after the shooting.

It's not yet known whether any of this affected Jared Lee Loughner. What is known is that he had no trouble getting a gun, and using it.

  • Dean Reynolds

    Dean Reynolds is a CBS News National Correspondent based in Chicago.