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Rathner and Associates in the News

Guns in Arizona: Gun lobby has firm grip on state

Conservative legislators continue to heed powerful voice

Alia Beard Rau - Jul. 13, 2011 12:00 AM

This year, the gun debate dominated the Arizona Legislature, overshadowing even illegal immigration.

The session started just days after the shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 18 others near Tucson. It ended with Gov. Jan Brewer vetoing two bills that would have made Arizona the most gun-friendly state in the nation.

During the three months in between, the gun lobby worked tirelessly and wielded its considerable influence to try to decrease restrictions on Arizonans' right to buy, own, carry and use firearms.

Three groups were behind most of the measures and carried the most influence behind the scenes at the Legislature: the Tucson-based non-profit Arizona Citizens Defense League, the Washington, D.C.-based National Rifle Association and Tucson, lobbyist Todd Rathner who in the past has represented the NRA and this session worked with Colt's Manufacturing Co.More than a dozen bills written by the gun lobbyists were introduced this session. The lobbyists were a constant presence at the Legislature. They carried with them the power of a political stance that conservative politicians in Arizona must support to remain electable, as well as the strength of thousands of members who made their opinions known via letters and e-mails.

Although each had a separate agenda, they worked together often this session, united in their push for the Legislature to eliminate restrictions on gun possession and use in Arizona. They went into the session predicting success with the help of a newly elected Legislature dominated by pro-gun conservative Republicans and a governor with a strong history of supporting Second Amendment legislation.

They came out of the session surprised and frustrated by some of the defeats. The two most controversial bills - to allow guns on college campuses and into public buildings - were vetoed. Brewer in her veto letters criticized the bills for being "poorly written."

Several smaller bills became law, including making the Colt Single Action Army Revolver the state firearm and redefining the justifications for use of force in defense of a home or vehicle.

"I think for gun owners, this was probably a 60/40 year," Rathner said. "In an environment where we had a terrible tragic mass shooting in Tucson, no anti-gun bills were passed. But, by the same token, we only passed a couple of good gun bills."

The lobbyists said they have no plans to give up on getting more "good" gun bills that loosen restrictions passed. They vow to be back next year smarter and savvier.

Who they are

Although the three gun-lobby groups often work together in their push for fewer gun restrictions in Arizona, each tackles the job in different ways and has unique strengths. The Arizona Citizens Defense League has local voters behind it. Todd Rathner, who owns his own lobbying firm, works his personal connections. And the NRA has its national reputation.

- The Arizona Citizens Defense League is a grass-roots group started with the intent to coordinate a statewide effort to expand the rights of gun owners. Group leaders work year-round developing legislation, meeting with lawmakers and advocating for and against measures.

This year, the league was behind both Senate Bill 1467 to require colleges to allow guns on campus and SB 1201 to require public buildings to allow guns unless they have metal detectors and armed guards.

"We started out with four guys six years ago, and we're just shy of 5,000 now," spokesman Charles Heller said, adding that members come from around the world, including a machine-gun dealer in England. "Thirty percent of Arizona legislators are members of our organization."

Heller would not identify the lawmakers.

The group hosts an annual meeting. Members are encouraged to vote for pro-gun candidates as well as influence legislators by sending letters and e-mails.

- Rathner worked as a lobbyist at the Arizona Legislature for the NRA for several years. He still serves on that organization's board of directors, but last year, he started his own lobbying firm. This year, he represented Colt and the Arizona State Rifle and Pistol Association, among others. He is a familiar face around the Legislature, is passionate about gun rights and knows how the game of lawmaking is played in Arizona. He gets to know legislators well and can often be found whispering in someone's ear.

During his decade at the Legislature, Rathner helped push for the law to eliminate the requirement for a concealed-carry permit as well as the one that required employers to allow employees to keep firearms in their vehicles in a business' parking lot.

This year, he successfully finagled on behalf of Colt a last-minute revote to get the Army revolver named the official state gun.

- Matt Dogali out of Virginia handles lobbying efforts for the NRA in Arizona as well as overseeing the national organization's lobbying in Idaho and Wyoming.

At the start of the session, he said, the NRA's primary focus in Arizona was to simplify the laws surrounding the use of force in certain situations. That measure did become law.

Dogali wasn't at the Legislature as often as the other lobbyists. His power is in his organization's name, its number of members and the postcards it sends to voters about candidate stances on gun issues.

How they work

During the months before the Legislature starts in January, the gun lobbyists individually meet with lawmakers and their own stakeholders and develop a strategy for the session. They decide which issues to focus on and write the bills they will ask sympathetic lawmakers to propose.

"We pick out our most important priority and our prime bill, which SB 1201 was," Heller said, referring to the bill to allow guns in public buildings. "Then, we have our other bills. We are never going to tell you which is our prime bill and which isn't. We decide in advance what we're willing to give up to get our prime bill done."

Once the session begins, lobbyists meet with lawmakers to make sure the politicians understand the bills and can be counted on to support them.

"We'll also reach out to the governor's staff and say, 'This is the bill. Do you have any issues with it?' and try to alleviate any concerns that may be there," Rathner said.

Lobbyists meet with House and Senate leadership to make sure their bills are assigned to favorable committees and move through the process. The gun lobbyists can easily pop into an influential lawmaker's office while less influential lobbyists must make an appointment.

Sen. Ron Gould, R-Lake Havasu City, sponsored several gun bills this session. He said gun lobbyists don't have to buy their influence; they have the voting power of their members to use as leverage.

"The National Rifle Association has clout just by the fact that they have a million members. (Lawmakers) are afraid of the NRA. They have the ability to get their message out," Gould said. "And the Citizens Defense League can probably generate as many e-mails in Arizona as the NRA can."

The Citizens Defense League also is at the Capitol working with lawmakers nearly every day during the session, Gould said.

Rathner said this session was unusual because of the number of freshman lawmakers, especially in the House.

"Many were unproven, and it was hard to judge where exactly they would be on a bill," Rathner said. "We had to do our best to educate them and try to get them to vote our way. And politics is fluid, so you have legislators constantly re-evaluating their positions on things."

The guns-on-campus bill was an example of lawmakers changing their positions. The bill originally would have allowed guns everywhere on campus, including in classrooms. It appeared to have the votes in the Senate, but it was watered down to allow guns only on campus rights-of-way to ensure it would pass in the House.

During the final floor votes on a bill, the lobbyists can often be found in the hallways or lawmakers' lobby, ready to answer questions or push a lawmaker who may not be lining up to vote the way they want.

That tactic saved the bill designating a state gun. The bill failed in the early hours of the last day of session, but Rathner was there.

"I scrambled to get a couple of legislators to organize a reconsideration vote and, within 15 minutes, we had a reconsideration," he said. "There were a few legislators who had been committed yeses but because of things said on the floor voted no. I scrambled to ask them why they voted no and would they reconsider."

The bill passed the second time.

"To me, it's a three-dimensional chess game," Rathner said. "You're dealing with 91 people, and you've got 91 different personalities. You want to give as little as you have to give, and it's a challenge to figure out how to get the votes. That's why lobbying is an art, not a science."

Outcomes and plans

Arizona this year tied with Utah and Alaska as having the worst gun-safety laws in the nation, according to the Washington, D.C.-based Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence. All three states got zero points. Had Brewer not vetoed the measures allowing guns on campus and in public buildings, the state likely would have been alone at the top next year with negative points.

Heller called Arizona's ranking this year a victory.

"Hallelujah, we finally got a perfect score," he said.

He said he doesn't consider this year's legislative defeats as failures.

"We are perfectly willing to encounter a defeat and learn from it and learn who our friends are and aren't and what we need to change to make the bill go through," Heller said. "We're willing to be defeated if it moves us forward."

Rathner said they learned from Brewer's vetoes, saying the groups will try to craft bills next session that are more specific. He said the lobbyists will work closely with Brewer's staff to develop something she can sign.

Heller said he believes the vetoes of the two major gun bills this session, as well as a reluctance from some Republican lawmakers to support the measures in their original form, were less about the bills and more about concerns about the political ramifications of signing such measures only months after the shooting near Tucson.

"After that terrible incident, they just couldn't provide themselves with any political cover to support what we were doing," he said. "But I really believe next year will be very different."


Guns in Arizona: Gun lobby's power tied to activism, not money

By Alia Beard Rau - Jul. 13, 2011 12:00 AM

The Arizona Republic

The gun lobby is among the most influential in Arizona. But its power doesn't come from money.

During the 2010 election cycle, gun lobbyists and their political-action committees gave less than $4,000 to statewide and legislative candidates. In comparison, individuals from groups such as the medical industry, teachers unions and real-estate developers gave hundreds of thousands of dollars more.

Yet gun legislation was one of the dominant issues of this year's legislative session. More than a dozen gun measures were proposed.

The state's three primary gun lobbyists are the National Rifle Association, the Arizona Citizens Defense League and Todd Rathner. According to campaign-contribution records provided by the Arizona Secretary of State's Office, here's what the lobbyists donated during the 2010 election cycle:

- The Arizona Citizens Defense League PAC donated $1,150 to candidates. Some of the money went to unsuccessful candidates. The winning candidates who received money were $200 to Senate President Russell Pearce, R-Mesa; $100 to Rep. Jack Harper, R-Surprise; $150 to Sen. Sylvia Allen, R-Snowflake; $100 to Rep. Terri Proud, R-Tucson; and $100 to House Majority Whip Debbie Lesko, R-Glendale.

- League president Dave Kopp gave $1,730 combined to 11 different candidates. The recipients were some of the state lawmakers who are most supportive of gun-rights measures, including $200 to Pearce, $400 to Rep. Jerry Weiers, R-Glendale, and $140 to Rep. Carl Seel, R-Phoenix.

- League vice president John Wentling gave $100 to Weiers.

- Arizona resident Robert Goode, who listed his occupation as advancement officer for the NRA, gave $140 to unsuccessful gubernatorial candidate Buz Mills. Goode also gave $50 to Corporation Commissioner Brenda Burns.

- Virginia-based NRA Executive Director Joe Graham gave $500 to Mills. All the candidates who got money are strong supporters of gun rights.

League spokesman Charles Heller said it is common for candidates who hold similar views to approach the organization for donations, as opposed to the league seeking out candidates to fund in exchange for support.

"If you look at the legislators who are already the most friendly to the right to keep and bear arms, they are the ones that are going to get the most support," Heller said.

When it comes to influence in Arizona, perception and political pressure is more important than money. And in Arizona, that pressure can be intense. U.S. Sen. John McCain faced a failed recall effort for supporting federal gun restrictions several years ago. When Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed two measures that would have loosened gun restrictions in Arizona this year, she was skewered by conservative bloggers, and gun-rights advocates threatened a recall effort.

The NRA and the Arizona Citizens Defense League use their website, e-mail and election-season mailers to alert their thousands of Arizona members to politicians' voting records, to suggest members contact their lawmakers and to recommend which legislators NRA members should vote for.

And members respond. Brewer got more than 1,000 phone calls and e-mails asking her to sign the bills.


Lawmakers Debate Effect of Weapons on Campus

February 27, 2011


PHOENIX — Along with the meaning of life and the origin of the universe, college students across the country have another existential question to ponder: the wisdom of allowing guns in class.

In Arizona, known for its gun-friendly ways, state lawmakers are pushing three bills this year focused on arming professors and others over the age of 21 on Arizona campuses. Sponsors talk of how professors and students are now sitting ducks for the next deranged gunman to charge through the classroom door. Some gun rights advocates go so far as to say that grade school teachers ought to be armed as well, although even this gun-friendly state is not ready for that proposition.

About a dozen legislatures nationwide, concerned about the potential for campus shootings, are considering arming their academies. Gun control advocates say Texas is probably the most likely to pass such a measure, with Arizona also in the mix.

Arizona’s proposals to loosen restrictions on campus weaponry, coming so soon after the shooting rampage in Tucson that left six dead and 13 wounded, have prompted a fierce debate at the state’s public universities, with significant brain power focusing on the issue of firepower. Administrators and campus police chiefs at Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University and the University of Arizona have all expressed opposition to allowing guns. Faculty members are circulating petitions against guns as well. Most, but not all, students also appear opposed.

Still, the state’s powerful gun lobby, with allies galore in the Legislature, is pushing hard. The notion has been floated in previous legislative sessions, but this year proponents believe they may have the momentum to get it done.

“We can’t rest on our laurels,” said Todd Rathner, who runs the Rathner & Associates lobbying firm and is working to have Colt named the state’s official firearm. “We’re making inroads, but I’ve been in politics long enough to know that the pendulum swings and there is no way to know if the pendulum won’t swing in the other direction.”

Campus shootouts are a relative rarity, but they do occur. The most notorious shooting at an Arizona university took place in 2002 when a disgruntled nursing student shot three professors to death.

Anthony Daykin, the police chief at the University of Arizona in Tucson, where the shootings occurred, said his officers would be at a loss if they arrived at a shooting scene in a lecture hall holding hundreds of students and found scores of people pointing, and possibly shooting, weapons at one another.

One student who found himself in the midst of a campus shooting agreed. “I don’t think two people having guns and firing them in public is that good of an idea,” said Nate Hightower, who was at South Mountain Community College in Phoenix in 2008 when a former student opened fire in a dispute with another young man, injuring three people.

On Feb. 14, there could have been a shooting at a Phoenix-area high school. Officials say a student had intended to kill a teacher, but a classmate told the authorities that the student had a gun before he could carry out his plan.

Keeping guns out, not allowing more in, is the answer, critics of the bills say. Others contend that allowing guns on campus will help ensure that universities stay relatively tranquil.

State Representative Jack Harper, who introduced a bill allowing professors to carry guns, said an Arizona State University professor, whom he has refused to identify, first raised the issue with him. “When law-abiding, responsible adults are able to defend themselves, crime is deterred,” Mr. Harper said in a statement.

That is the philosophy in Arizona as a whole, where gun laws are among the least restrictive in the country. If law-abiding people can carry guns one step outside the campus to keep criminals at bay, supporters ask, why not allow them to enter a university with their firearms? That is already permitted in Utah, alone so far in allowing guns to be carried on all state campuses.

“I think that every person has the right to bear arms no matter what the circumstances,” said Ashlyn Lucero, a political science student at Arizona State University who has served in the Marine Corps, is the daughter of a sheriff and grew up hunting.

Ms. Lucero carries her Glock pistol whenever possible and would carry it on campus if she could. “If I’m going out to eat somewhere, I usually have a gun with me always,” she said. “It’s just one of those things that you never know what’s going to happen.”

Thor Mikesell, a senior majoring in music who grew up hunting, is also a backer of allowing guns on campus. “There’s no magic line, there’s no magic barrier that makes me more safe on the campus than it is when I’m being a real person in the real world outside of the school,” he said.

Mr. Mikesell said he does not carry his gun with him all the time because his girlfriend objects. But he does not consider gun carriers extreme.

“This is not the 1890s’ O.K. Corral shoot ’em up, bang ’em up,” he said. “These are not vigilante kind of people. Their interest is their personal security and the security of their family.”

The State Senate president, Russell Pearce, who recently said he would not prevent senators from taking guns into the Senate chamber despite rules against it, is an advocate for loosening as many gun restrictions as possible.

There are a bevy of other gun proposals this year, including measures that would allow guns in public buildings and make the Republican-dominated Legislature the sole arbiter of gun laws throughout the state. A Democratic proposal to restrict the sale of high-capacity magazines like those used in the Tucson shooting stands little chance of passing.

“Guns save lives, and it’s a constitutional right of our citizens,” Mr. Pearce said of the guns-on-campus proposal. Speaking of the Tucson shooting, which took place at a shopping center and not on a university campus, Mr. Pearce, a former sheriff’s deputy, said, “If somebody had been there prepared to take action, they could have saved lives.”

Carmen Themar, a program coordinator at the University of Arizona College of Nursing, was at the university on the morning nine years ago when a student began moving through the building and shooting professors. Despite the terror of the episode, she is not convinced that more guns would have prevented the attacks.

“Let’s say we had guns on the campus back then,” she said. “We might have had a shootout, more bullets in the air, and bullets don’t always go where they are aimed.”

Anne Mariucci, the chairwoman of the Arizona Board of Regents, the governing board for the state’s universities, said she would prefer that universities be places where disagreements are resolved by debating, not squeezing the trigger.

“Yes, the world is a dangerous place these days, but I don’t think you fight fire with fire,” she said. “I don’t think that bringing guns on campuses is the image of the peaceful, civil discourse that universities are supposed to be about.”

Salvador Rodriguez contributed reporting from Phoenix, and Carli Brousseau from Tucson


Arizona law standardizes knife regulations

by Laurie Merrill - Jan. 4, 2011 03:31 PM
The Arizona Republic

One of the most notorious Arizona crimes of 2010 was the beheading of a Chandler man with suspected drug-cartel ties. The weapon: a large knife.

In the so-called "Chandler Vampire" case, a man was injured for reportedly refusing to let his friends suck his blood. The weapon, again, a knife.

A knife and at least one gun, Tempe police say, were used in the so-called "Warehouse Murders," in which two men were held hostage, robbed and slain.

Despite the sensational nature of these crimes, Tempe and Chandler police say that knives overall are used as tools, and don't expect much criminal fallout from the new state knife law.

The law is the first in the nation to pre-empt local authorities on regulating the manufacture or carrying of knives, said Doug Ritter, chairman of Knife Rights Inc., a Gilbert-based group of knife enthusiasts. Other states are actively looking at Arizona's law as a model, he said.

"The best way to describe it is it enables Arizona citizens to freely travel in the state without worrying they are going to inadvertently break the law in some municipality or town," Ritter said.

Tempe police Sgt. Steve Carbajal, said, "Our hope is that people continue to act responsibly when it comes to knives and other weapons,"

Chandler has seen a drop in robberies and assaults in which knives were used, dropping from an average of about seven assaults a month in which knives were used in 2009 to just over five a month last year. Knives were used in an average of 1½ robberies a month in 2009, and an average of about one a month in 2010.

"Most people seem to carry knives as a tool rather than a weapon," said Chandler police Sgt. Joe Favazzo.

Before the state law went into effect in July, Arizona had a quagmire of knife ordinances, said Todd Rathner, Knife Rights legislative director. Driving from Gilbert to Phoenix, you would pass through three municipalities, each with a different knife law, he said.

Tempe's ordinance prohibited knives in establishments where liquor was available. Chandler's banned people from carrying a knife blade longer than 3½ inches in city parks.

The new state law, which pre-empts those in any city or town, has a liberal definition of knife: Anything with a sharp blade used for cutting. That means that any blade from a box cutter to a Samurai sword is legal.

"There were a lot of silly ordinances that I think were sort of copied from old statutes," Rathner said. "They have become pretty antiquated in a lot of states."

Yuma had banned knives with blades over 3½ inches designed for fighting, and Phoenix forbade knife blades over 4 inches unless it was in the kitchen, Rathner said.

One of the more inconvenient situations was that knife blades on the Fort McDowell Indian Reservation could be 4 inches long, but in nearby Scottsdale, the length drops to about 3 inches, said Hank Scutoski, research analyst for the Arizona State Rifle and Pistol Association, which he described as the NRA of Arizona.

Knives, Ritter said, are becoming increasingly commonplace despite the sour economy. "There are certainly tens of millions of Americans who carry a knife in their pocket every day," Ritter said. "It is a wonderfully vibrant industry with a very large selection of American-made products."

The tools are commonly used for opening letters and boxes, cutting twine or rope, or butchering slain game, he said.

"A significant number of legislators carry knives themselves," Ritter said. "To most legislators, it (the uniform state law) is simply common sense."

Knife carriers must obey laws that forbid concealed weapons or ban them from courtrooms and other government buildings, Scutoski said.

Some states looking to follow Arizona's footsteps include Nevada, Utah and other states in the South and West, Ritter said.

Ritter's statistics show that knives are used only occasionally as a weapon. Fewer than 1 percent of crimes involved knives, he said. And most of those knives come from the kitchen, he said.

"They usually stem from domestic-violence issues, and what is available in a domestic-violence situation?" Ritter said. "Oftentimes, it is the kitchen knife."

Read more:


The New York Times

Sunday December 5, 2010

Pushing a Right to Bear Arms, the Sharp Kind


PHOENIX — Arizona used to be a knife carrier’s nightmare, with a patchwork of local laws that forced those inclined to strap Buck knives or other sharp objects to their belts to tread carefully as they moved from Phoenix (no knives except pocketknives) to Tempe (no knives at all) to Tucson (no knives on library grounds).

But that changed earlier this year when Arizona made its Legislature the sole arbiter of knife regulations. And because of loose restrictions on weapons here, Arizona is now considered a knife carrier’s dream, a place where everything from a samurai sword to a switchblade can be carried without a quibble.

Arizona’s transformation, and the recent lifting of a ban on switchblades, stilettos, dirks and daggers in New Hampshire, has given new life to the knife rights lobby, the little-known cousin of the more politically potent gun rights movement. Its vision is a knife-friendly America, where blades are viewed not as ominous but as tools — the equivalent of sharp-edged screw drivers or hammers — that serve useful purposes and can save lives as well as take them.

Sure, knife fights and knife attacks are a concern. No knife-lover would ever deny that. In fact, Todd Rathner, the lobbyist for Knife Rights Inc., an advocacy group based in Arizona that is now in its third year, was mugged twice in New York City before moving to Tucson, once — “ironically,” he said — at knifepoint.

But the problem is with the knife wielder, not the knife itself, the knife lobby says, sounding very much like those who advocate for gun rights.

In fact, knife advocates contend that the Second Amendment applies to knives as well as guns. They focus their argument elsewhere, though, emphasizing that knives fill so many beneficial roles, from carving Thanksgiving turkeys to whittling, that they do not deserve the bad name they often get.

“People talk about how knives are dangerous, and then they go in the kitchen and they have 50 of them,” said D’Alton Holder, a veteran knife maker who lives in Wickenberg, Ariz. “It’s ridiculous to talk about the size of the knife as if that makes a difference. If you carry a machete that’s three feet long, it’s no more dangerous than any knife. You can do just as much damage with an inch-long blade, even a box cutter.”

As for the pocketknife he carries with him every day, Mr. Holder said: “I use it for everything — to clean my fingernails, to prune a tree or carve, even to eat dinner with. I never think about the knives that I carry or the knives that I make as weapons.”

Jennifer Coffey, the New Hampshire state representative who led the effort to overturn the state’s switchblade ban, is also an emergency medical technician who uses knives to extract people from vehicles after accidents. Even when switchblades were outlawed, there were exceptions for emergency workers and others who might use them on the job, but Ms. Coffey still considered the law outrageous.

“We had certain knives that were illegal, but I could walk down the street with a kitchen knife that I used to carve a turkey and that would be legal,” Ms. Coffey said. “I’d be more scared of a kitchen knife than a switchblade.”

She said switchblade bans were passed in the 1950s because of the menacing use of the knives in movies like “West Side Story” and “Rebel Without a Cause.” Her legislation drew the support of an array of knife-related entities: Knife Rights, a young upstart in knife advocacy; the American Knife and Tool Institute, a group based in Wyoming that represents knife manufacturers, sellers and owners; and publications like Blade, Cutlery News Journal and Knife World.

The effort to lift the ban on switchblades in New Hampshire even won the support of the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police.

In Arizona, however, police groups were more circumspect about lifting all of the local knife laws. The Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police opposed the move, saying local jurisdictions ought to set their own knife restrictions. The Phoenix Law Enforcement Association remained neutral.

In much of the country, especially in urban areas, knives are still viewed as weapons in need of tight control.

District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. of Manhattan announced in June that his office had pressured retail stores that were selling illegal knives to remove them from their shelves, forfeit profits from the knives made over the last four years and help finance a campaign to educate people against illegal knives.

“What makes these knives so dangerous is the ease with which they can be concealed and brandished,” Mr. Vance said of the illegal switchblades and gravity knives, which require a wrist flip to open instead of a switchblade’s spring, that were bought by undercover agents.

Mr. Vance’s offensive drew the ire of the American Knife and Tool Institute, which issued an “action alert” and offered to assist New York retailers and individuals charged with knife violations with their legal defenses.

The knife lobby similarly rose up in 2009 when the federal Customs and Border Protection agency issued a proposal that would have reclassified many pocketknives and pocket tools as switchblades and thus made them illegal for import or sale across state lines under the 1958 federal Switchblade Act. In the end, Congress intervened and blocked the change.

A case now unfolding in Seattle shows how volatile knives continue to be. A police officer there fatally shot a man in August after, the officer said, he ordered the man several times to drop a knife that he was carrying. But the legitimacy of the shooting has been questioned by the Police Department, partly because the knife, which had a three-inch blade, was found in a closed position near the body of the dead man, who had been using it to carve a piece of wood.

Knife advocates are hoping that, just as Arizona’s immigration law has led to a national debate on that topic, its move to end knife restrictions will lead more states to take up the cause.

“Arizona is now the model when it comes to knives,” said Mr. Rathner, who was a National Rifle Association lobbyist before he switched to knives. “We’re now going to be moving to other states, probably in the Rocky Mountains and the Southeast. There’s probably half a dozen or more places that are ripe for this.”


Rathner, long-time NRA rep, starts own lobbying firm

By Luige del Puerto -

Published: November 23, 2010 at 4:06 pm

Former National Rifle Association lobbyist Todd Rathner, a veteran of
some of the toughest policy battles at the Capitol, has started his own
lobbying firm.

This time, Rathner said he wants to work with companies that seek to
promote a business-friendly environment in Arizona.

In lobbying for business, Rathner could find himself allied with groups
like the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Arizona
Restaurant Association, which have clashed with him on gun legislation.

But Rathner said he still won’t lobby for an anti-gun legislation or
work to repeal gun laws he advocated for.

As NRA’s representative at the Capitol, Rathner helped to push some of
the biggest gun bills in the last few years.

That included legislation to allow those who have a concealed-weapons
permit to bring a firearm into restaurants and other establishments that
sell alcohol, including bars. It requires restaurant owners who don’t
want guns on their property to post a sign stating that firearms are

Rathner also worked on a bill that prohibits property owners, tenants,
public or private employers and businesses from establishing and
enforcing any policy that prohibits a person from transporting or
storing a firearm that is in the person’s locked car or in a
motorcycle’s locked compartment.

Rathner said he intends to use his expertise and the relationships he
has developed as an NRA representative to help companies.

“I’m a strong advocate. I’m a guy that’s going to stand up for my
clients and I’m going to get the job done for them,” he said.

Rathner said he actually agrees with business groups more than he
disagrees with them when it comes to business philosophy.

“A business-friendly climate is lower taxes and less regulation on
business,” he said.

Rathner also said while his battles with business groups were passionate
at times, the parties walked away with mutual respect and their
relationship remained civil.

Rathner remains a member of the NRA board.