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Tuesday, February 09, 2016

1945: K. T. PALMER AND THE PHOENIX HANDGUN ORDINANCE

K. T. Palmer  (1899-1976), and a fellow named Tom Darlington were the founders of Carefree, Arizona in the mid 1950’s.

Real estate wasn’t Palmer’s only vocation as explained in his book “For Land’s Sake” (1971).  He also was a homesteader, a lawyer, and during World War II was a successful secondhand store operator.  He sold a lot of war surplus items including secondhand guns.

K. T Palmer (right) looking over plans for 
Carefree, Arizona.
He was not an expert on guns but he found that he was selling more handguns than dealers who were more knowledgeable than he was.  The reason was that Phoenix at that time had a city ordinance concerning handguns that was a frustration to other dealers.

Phoenix required a police permit to be issued before a handgun sale could be made with the idea being to keep guns away from crooks.  Unfortunately, the cops looked at the permit as a way to stop gun sales to everyone. 

Palmer related that a typical situation may go like this:  A lady whose husband was out of town a lot could buy a pistol for protection at a place like a hardware store where she would be told of the necessary police permit.  After filling out the forms, she would go to the police station for her permit.

After arriving she would typically get a retort from an officer asking:  “Who do you want to shoot?”  After nervously replying “N-n-nobdy” she would be asked “Then why do you need a gun!?”  After mentioning that her husband was out at night a lot” she would hear something like “We are here to protect you, you don’t need a gun!”  In other words, “Beat it!” Men were treated in similar fashion.

In actuality, the law stated that refusal of a permit was only a factor if the applicant had a record of drunkenness, was insane, or was a criminal.  Since Palmer was probably the only secondhand store owner in Phoenix with a Harvard law degree, he knew how to avoid the attitude of the cops by going to the Chief of Police about it.  His gun sales jumped by 33% and he never had another rejection.  In fact, because of his persistence, the permit law was eventually repealed for legitimate gun buyers.

Today, if you are 21, buying a pistol and carrying it concealed is within the law in Phoenix and in Arizona.  Those who disagree with that and believe in restricting or collecting guns so they can be destroyed, are fooling themselves.  In his era, Palmer stated that he would “no more deprive the private citizen of his right to possess firearms to defend himself and his home than he would to deprive him the right to own and operate that far more lethal weapon, the automobile.”

He also stated that it frightened him to think of the day when a representative of a government hostile to our way of life, would knock on his door and demand his guns.

Palmer was a bright guy.