[Source: Scott Wong, Arizona Republic] — Just as local and state tourism officials tried to shed Phoenix’s unbecoming title as the “kidnapping capital of America,” another national moniker has emerged: gun-crazy. A man carrying a pistol and semi-automatic rifle outside the Phoenix hall where President Barack Obama spoke this month ignited a media firestorm, reinforcing the stereotype of the Grand Canyon State as a gun-loving vestige of the Wild West.
The firearms display, later revealed to be a publicity stunt, was legal under an Arizona law that allows most citizens to openly carry guns in public without a permit. But the spotlight cast by cable-news pundits, newspaper editorials and blogs — including censure from a world-renowned travel writer — raised questions about whether Arizona’s lax gun laws make it safe to travel and do business in the state. “We’re an urban city, and there are individuals trying to hold on to the old ways of the Wild West,” said Phoenix Councilman Michael Nowakowski, himself a gun owner. “We’re going to lose a lot of conventions because of one knucklehead.”
Before the gun stunt, tales of Mexican drug cartels abducting rival smugglers and immigrants and holding them for ransom in Valley homes had already painted Phoenix as a city under siege. [Note: Read the full article at Does Arizona have an image problem?]