Arizona representatives have introduced a bill to require ‘gun free zones’ in public buildings to have teeth. If the public officials are not willing to insure that the buildings actually prevent people from bringing guns into them, then people who are licensed to carry concealed weapons will not be required to disarm, merely by ‘gun free’ signs.
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 has been vetoed by Governor Brewer; she was no longer running to be re-elected. As a compromise, 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 222,121 valid concealed carry permits as if July of 2014, or a little less than 5% 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 change in the law is reasonably clear. From azleg.gov:
G. Subsection A, paragraph 10 of this section shall not apply to:
1. Shooting ranges or shooting events, hunting areas or similar locations or activities.
2. A person who is in a public establishment other than a vehicle or craft or at a public event and who possesses a valid permit issued pursuant to section 13‑3112. This paragraph does not apply to a public establishment or public event that has security personnel and electronic weapons screening devices in place at each entrance to the public establishment or public event or that has security personnel electronically screen each person who enters the public establishment or public event to determine if the person is carrying a deadly weapon and the security personnel require each person who is carrying a deadly weapon to leave the weapon in possession of the security personnel pursuant to section 13-3102.01 while the person is in the public establishment or at a public event. This paragraph does not limit, restrict or prohibit the existing rights of a private property owner, private tenant, private employer or private business entity.
Those who are promoting the law see it as a public safety and constitutional rights issue. It is hard to argue with them when the affected group is much safer than police officers.
Kansas passed a very similar bill in 2013. There appear to be no effects, other than removing an infringement on the right to bear arms.
Bans on citizens carrying guns in government buildings add nothing to security, but they make life complicated for those who wish to exercise their second amendment rights. Like most defenseless victim zones, they are designed to intimidate and inconvenience gun owners, making the exercise of their constitutional rights difficult and legally dangerous
There are enough votes in the legislature to pass this bill. The question is if Governor Doug Ducey will sign it. Many believed that Governor Brewer’s decision to veto the bill was based on intense efforts of the University lobby, and disarmists in Tucson. Governor Ducey projected solid second amendment support during the campaign, but nearly all politicians attempt to sound pro-second amendment during campaigns. They have learned that to do otherwise is bad for their political health. As a campaigner, candidate Ducey was careful not to fall for the emotional-based restrictions called for by the disarmists in the media. This makes me believe that he is likely to sign.
©2015 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
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