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Jun 26, 2013 9:35 PM by Nathan O'Neal

Gun on a city bus: Is it legal?

TUCSON - Passengers on a Suntran bus received a startling surprise Wednesday morning when a passenger boarded carrying a high-capacity rifle, stirring emotions and questions about the legality of carrying the weapon on a city bus.

Nicholas Draper was just finishing a bike ride when he hopped on that bus near Palo Verde and Ajo.

"I lifted my glasses and look across from me and there's this kid with an assault rifle with a smoky transparent clip that was full of bullets... and he's sitting there with his finger on the trigger and the safety," Draper told News 4 Tucson.

Concerned, Draper got up to tell the bus driver about the armed bus rider.

"He's basically glaring everybody on the bus down like he's suspicious of everyone and it's making me very uncomfortable," Draper said. Draper exited the bus at the next bus stop.

A spokesperson with Suntran said that while they do not have a policy preventing people from bringing legal weapons on board, they highly discourage it.

While it's perfectly legal to carry an AR-15 in public without a permit, Tommy Rompel, the owner of Black Weapons Armory, said acting in an intimidating way could pose a problem.

"I think that would be an issue depending on where his finger is and how he's acting in public," Rompel said.

State law comes into play in terms of how you carry a firearm, but more importantly, how you behave while carrying it. State statute prohibits the reckless handling, display or firing of a deadly weapon.

"Unless he's doing something really inappropriate with it, it's more of bad etiquette is what it boils down to," Rompel said.

As for Draper, he never wants to run into that kind of situation again.

"I'm sure I wasn't the only one scared. I saw a few people glance over... minding their own business," Draper said.

A spokesperson with Suntran told News 4 Tucson that this incident turned out very peacefully. However, they acknowledge that it's very important for the public to act as their eyes and ears - letting the bus driver know if anything suspicious is going on.

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