Arizona Senate Bill 1183, legislation drafted by Sen. Kavanagh (R, Fountain Hills) that proposes a ban on brass knuckles, is personal to me. My life changed on Dec. 30, 2022, when my head was split open by a teen who I did not know at the SanTan Village Marketplace In-N-Out in Gilbert. The attacker, who was with 10 to 12 other teens, first complimented my car and then tried to rob me before hitting me with brass knuckles when I turned my back to him.
I ended up having to get 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. 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.
Fortunately, the police were able to make an arrest in my case, and the state was able to prosecute him. During the juvenile court process, I met another victim who was injured by brass knuckles and was knocked unconscious. And over the summer, I met yet another teen severely injured by brass knuckles in north Phoenix, coincidentally also at an In-N-Out. He lost several teeth and will require numerous dental surgeries over his lifetime.
Each of these unprovoked, random, senseless incidents involving teens resulted in severe injuries and medical bills. And with the "Gilbert Goons" cases being covered extensively by local news media, we’ve seen dozens more cases of violence with brass knuckles occurring over the past year. With legislation banning or restricting brass knuckles, like SB 1183, it would make it more difficult to get these deadly weapons in the hands of the thugs who use them.
I'm hoping both sides of the aisle, Republicans and Democrats alike, can come together on this issue and help make Arizona a safer place. I also want to make it clear that I am pro Second Amendment. But unlike guns, which can be used for hunting or to defend yourself from a distance, brass knuckles have no redeeming purpose other than to hurt people in close range – they were designed to injure, and potentially kill.
According to my research, 21 other states – including our neighbors in California, Colorado and Nevada – have banned brass knuckles. Arizona is one of only 12 states with no restrictions on them. With heavy punishments on brass knuckles, like in Colorado where someone found in possession of brass knuckles can face up to 18 months in jail and severe fines, fewer people would risk being caught with them and we’d be able to stop the sale of these weapons online and at smoke shops.
I'm asking Arizonans to support SB 1183 to ban brass knuckles or, if the bill gets amended, to restrict them. I will do whatever I can to help with this effort and to represent the victims who have been harmed by this dangerous weapon. I believe this is an issue that can bridge our differences and bring our state leaders together for the safety of our community at a time when teen violence is in the spotlight. Please consider signing your support at nobrassknuckles.org and by writing your state legislators, which can be found at azleg.gov, in support of SB 1183.
Editor's note: Connor Jarnagan attends high school in Queen Creek. On Wednesday, Feb. 7, the Queen Creek Town Council will be considering its support of SB 1183 at its regular meeting, which begins at 6:30 p.m. Jarnagan has asked everyone to wear orange to the meeting in support of Preston Lord, #JusticeforPrestonLord, and to go online and support SB 1183 at nobrassknuckles.org.