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Weapons laws

Teens brutally attacked me with brass knuckles at In-N-Out. Why are these weapons still legal?

There is no useful purpose for brass knuckles – they are not used in self-defense, despite what some may try to argue – and they add nothing to our communities besides contributing to violent crime.

Connor Jarnagan
Opinion contributor

Exodus 15:2 says, “The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.”

As a 17-year-old Christian, I’ve relied largely on my faith, and this verse, following the brutal brass knuckles attack I was a victim of a little over a year ago.

On Dec. 30, 2022, I was waiting with a friend in the parking lot of In-N-Out Burger by the SanTan Village mall in Gilbert around dinnertime. A group of about 10 to 12 teens approached me and one of them demanded money.  

When I told him no, he tried to enter my car, and when I tried to stop him and turned to grab my keys, he hit me in the back of my head with brass knuckles.

I stood up and immediately felt a lot of blood gushing down my neck and back and soaking into my shirt. It’s a feeling I will never forget, and one I hope I never have to experience again.

I'm not the only victim of brass knuckles

Luckily, I was able to drive to a nearby parking lot while blood was drenching my seats and call 911. I ended up getting staples in my head, and doctors told me that had the injury just been an inch to the left, I could have been paralyzed or killed.

When I was filing a police report, I was disturbed to find out from Gilbert Police that this was the fifth incident with brass knuckles at that In-N-Out that month alone, although not all victims were willing to file reports.

Connor Jarnagan, a victim of a brass knuckles attack, spoke at a Senate judiciary hearing where a brass knuckles bill is being proposed on Feb. 1, 2024.

Fortunately, the police were able to make an arrest in my case, and the state was able to prosecute my attacker. With the recent spotlight on teen violence in the East Valley, we have seen a common denominator in many of these cases – brass knuckles have been used.

For the past couple of months, I have worked with Sen. John Kavanagh on his proposed Senate Bill 1183, which would ban brass knuckles and make it more difficult to get these weapons in the hands of the thugs who use them.

Today, anyone can buy them over the counter or online without any background checks or any other restrictions in place.

Congress has ignored gun violence.I hope they can't ignore the voices of the victims.

States like Arizona don't restrict this deadly weapon

According to my research, 21 other states, including our neighbors Nevada, Colorado and California, have banned brass knuckles. In fact, Arizona is one of only 12 states with no restrictions on them.

There is no useful purpose for brass knuckles – they are not used in self-defense, despite what some may try to argue – and they add nothing to our communities in Arizona besides contributing to violent crime and providing disturbed teens and adults with a weapon that can kill someone.

Brass knuckles

That’s why I support and will do whatever I can to help with this effort and to represent the victims who have been harmed by this dangerous weapon.

I was recently informed that due to a “majority of the majority” vote in the Senate, which is an informal vote of the 16 Republican senators, that the bill was killed and would not progress because they did not have nine Republicans who supported it.

I have been told that lobbying groups like Knife Rights and other Second Amendment groups have threatened to pull support from or actively campaign against legislators who support the bill.

I watched my teacher get shot in 1993.I thought lawmakers would never let it happen again.

Interests killed the bill. It deserves a vote.

This sounds like bullies are running the Legislature behind the scenes, and it’s a far cry from the idea that legislators are elected by the people to represent their constituents – not special interest groups.

I respectfully request a full Senate vote on SB 1183, and would welcome a conversation with anyone who believes that brass knuckles should be legal.

Connor Jarnagan was assaults in December 2022 with brass knuckles in one of the earliest attacks that have been linked to the Gilbert Goons.

I also encourage people to go online to to sign the petition in support of the effort or reach out to your legislators in support of the bill.

Together, we can make a difference.

Whether it be this legislative cycle or a future one, I will keep advocating for solutions that make our communities safer.

Connor Jarnagan was assaulted in one of the earliest attacks that have been linked to the “Gilbert Goons” in Arizona. This column first published at azcentral.com. Reach Jarnagan atconnorjarnagan3@gmail.com.

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