AZ: Reform of Public Building Ban Sabotaged in Senate

By Dean Weingarten

Arizona State Capitol
Arizona Citizens Defense League Needs Your Help Persuading Legislators


Dean Weingarten
Dean Weingarten

Arizona – -( Kansas and Texas have removed bans on the carry of guns by permit holders in the last few years.  Kansas allows local governments to prevent permit holders from exercising Second  Amendment rights in public buildings if the public building puts metal detectors and armed guards on all the entrances.

In other words, merely relying on a sign to prevent responsible and peaceful people from carrying arms, while not actively preventing criminals from carrying them, is no longer acceptable in Kansas.  Arizona is looking to follow Kansas’ lead.

The theory is simple.  Mere signage will not stop people who have evil intent from carrying concealed weapons into public buildings.   By placing signage, but without significant enforcement mechanisms, the signs effectively screen out the most law abiding, while doing little to keep out the most dangerous individuals.

The law has been popular in past legislatures, passing with veto prof majorities in the last two.  Both times it was vetoed by Governor Brewer; she was no longer running to be re-elected.  This law only applies to those who have taken the necessary classes, passed the background check, undergone the bureaucratic application and been granted a permit to carry concealed.   Arizona has 264,010 valid concealed carry permits as if April 24, 2016, or right at 7% of the adult population.

Police officers have always been exempt from the ‘gun free zone’ signs, and they commit crimes at a rate of 6-10 times as often(pdf) as concealed carry permit holders.

The primary obstacle to the bill’s passage has been Governor Brewer.  The new Governor, Doug  Ducey, seems a bit friendlier to Second Amendment supporters, at least in this early part of his term.  His office asked that an additional exception be added to the bill; then he could support it.  The exemption was for the special health care district in Maricopa County.  From an Arizona Citizens’ Defense League email:

At the request of the Governor’s Office, SB 1257 was amended in the House to exempt facilities operated by Special Health Care Districts.  Currently, there is only one special health care district facility and it is located in Maricopa County.

As amended by the House, if a state, county or local facility’s only protection is a “no weapons” sign, then anyone with a CCW permit would not be required to disarm when entering, with the following exceptions:

  • Courts, jails, law enforcement agencies.
  • Federal facilities.
  • Schools, colleges or universities.
  • The Arizona State Hospital.
  • The facility operated by the Special Health Care District in Maricopa County.
  • Public establishments licensed to serve alcohol.

The Kansas law is considerably broader, and includes Universities.

A version of the bill passed the Senate on 3 March, 2016 18 to 12.  The bill with the amendment passed the House on 26 April, 35 to 23.

AZCDL reports that there have been some behind the scenes manuvering.  It appears that Governor Ducey does not want to face the prospect of signing or vetoing the bill.  A vote was taken in the Senate, where “supporters” were not present or switched their votes.  It ended in a tie, which defeated the bill.  The vote occurred on 3 May.  AZCDL is working for a reconsideration.  From an AZCDL email:

After voting FOR the passage of SB 1257 during the Senate Third Read vote that moved the bill to the House on March 3, Senators Carlyle Begay, Steve Pierce and Bob Worsley, voted AGAINST the passage of SB 1257 during today’s Final Read vote. Additionally, Senator Jeff Dial decided to suddenly vanish from the chamber when SB 1257 came up for voting. The result of this sabotage was a tie vote that killed the bill.

We are disappointed by the tactics of this Governor. At least his predecessor, Governor Brewer, chose not to interfere with the legislative process and let a prior version of SB 1257 get to her desk before publicly vetoing it.

Costs of the bill are zero, unless a government agency decides to ban people who have concealed carry permits from exercising their Second Amendment rights in government buildings.  To do so, they will need to put in metal detectors and armed guards, which they did not have before.
©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.

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About Dean Weingarten;

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.