East Valley family pushes for ban on brass knuckles after teen boy beaten

Jan 22, 2024, 4:24 PM | Updated: Mar 12, 2024, 9:39 am

PHOENIX — An East Valley family is urging a statewide ban on brass knuckles after its teen son was beaten by the weapon in late 2022.

Connor Jarnagan, 17, was assaulted while in his vehicle by a group of teenagers outside a Gilbert In-N-Out on Dec. 30, 2022, leaving him bloodied and requiring staples in his head.

Jarnagan wrote a letter to Rep. Jennifer Pawlik in early October, nine months after the attack, urging legislators to ban brass knuckles in the state. He noted in his letter that he had heard from the Gilbert Police Department of other cases of teens being beaten by brass knuckles.

Jarnagan also met with other Valley teens who were victims of attacks via brass knuckles, including one victim who was attacked by the same suspect.

“[The attack] kind of gave me motivation to go out in the world and do things to make it better instead of just sitting back and watching these things happen,” Jarnagan told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Gaydos and Chad Show on Monday.

Why is there a plea for brass knuckles to be banned in Arizona?

The call for a brass knuckles ban comes as the entire East Valley is dealing with a string of high-profile cases of teen violence.

Jarnagan sent his letter to Pawlik weeks before 16-year-old Queen Creek student Preston Lord was beaten and killed outside a Halloween party.

In another incident on Aug. 18, four suspects have been accused of planning and carrying out a violent attack against a minor. That assault also occurred outside a Gilbert In-N-Out Burger.

Stephanie Jarnagan, Connor’s mother, said the incident with her son rocked her family. The attack was random — none of the suspects knew Connor — and is in line with attacks said to have been carried out by the Gilbert Goons, a group of East Valley teens accused of assaulting others.

“Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that going allowing my son to go to In-N-Out to meet friends to hang out would be a problem,” Jarnagan said.

Will Arizona get a ban on brass knuckles?

Sen. John Kavanagh told Gaydos and Chad on Monday that he would introduce a bill in this legislative session to ban brass knuckles in the state.

Kavanagh, a former New York police officer, said he was shocked to learn the weapon was legal in Arizona. Brass knuckles are illegal in 21 states and require a permit in 17 others. Arizona is one of 12 states where they’re legal.

“I’m going to introduce a bill that would … be a little bit broader not just brass knuckles, but any metal knuckles, any plastic knuckles or any knuckles made of a hard, durable material because these also come in plastic form or in bone form and all of them are equally destructive,” Kavanagh said.

Kavanagh said he doesn’t expect much pushback from other lawmakers.

“It’s an offensive weapon that thugs use so I don’t think they’ll be any opposition to it,” he said.

What’s next for Jarnagan and family?

The Jarnagan family said it doesn’t want any more Valley teens to suffer the way Connor did.

Stephanie is still frustrated, noting her son carrying a weapon when he turns 18 is a possibility because of the attack.

“I just don’t know what’s going through these kids’ heads to make them think that that kind of a behavior is acceptable — or even the parents who are the parents to these boys,” Stephanie Jarnagan said. “Like do they know that their sons are doing this? It’s unbelievable.”

Connor is trying to make the best of it after recovering from his injuries.

“It kind of makes me feel good that we can make something out of a bad situation and make our community safer,” Connor Jarnagan said.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

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East Valley family pushes for ban on brass knuckles after teen boy beaten