On the strength of the National Rifle Association's thesis that increasing guns in public places merely implements the tenets of the Second Amendment, America now has the world's largest unorganized armed "militia."
The U.S. population of some 312 million now owns more than 250 million firearms, including, according to the gleeful NRA, "tens of millions of 'assault weapons'—the types of firearms that gun control supporters have tried the hardest to get banned."
Saturation continues apace, at the rate of 4 million new gun sales every year, according to the NRA.
Yet, it's not the volume of gun sales or pervasiveness of gun ownership that triggered a new national debate about guns. The focus is how the NRA has persuaded—intimidated, more likely—state legislatures to enact permissive new laws allowing concealed weapons to be carried in places once considered off limits to arms.
If California once was a trendsetter in language and cool fashion fads, Arizona is now the pacesetter for gun laws that warm the heart of the NRA and gun owners who want to pack heat wherever they go.
Arizona now permits concealed weapons in bars.
During this year's legislative session, a shower of new gun bills has been rained down on the state by its best-known political friend to gun permissiveness, Republican state Rep. Jack Harper, one of whose mottos is, "When everyone is carrying a firearm, nobody is going to be a victim," and whose sagacity includes, "The socialists of today are only one gun confiscation away from being the communists of tomorrow."
One Harper bill would permit community college and university faculty members to carry concealed weapons. However, to make sure universities don't do an end run and prohibit weapons on campus, another lawmaker has backed up Harper's bill with legislation prohibiting higher education from banning faculty guns.
Harper also has a bill prohibiting homeowner associations from denying members "any fundamental" constitutional right—read that to mean "carrying guns."
Harper isn't out of ideas yet. He also proposes to legalize "a device for taking game" (such as a gun) into game refuges. Not even wildlife protected in game preserves would be safe from shooters.
Finally, Rep. Harper wants to show the rest of the country Arizona isn't rattled by the shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords by a deranged college student.
Among his flurry of bills is one allowing gun owners declared mentally ill and banned from possessing firearms to ask a court to restore their access to guns.
Before or after they've been declared sane?