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State House Votes to Allow Guns in Public Buildings

Phoenix, AZ – Current law lets government agencies declare their buildings to be gun-free zones. All they have to do is post a sign on the door and provide a place for customers to store their weapons. Rep. Eddie Farnsworth said he thinks that's unconstitutional. What it also is, he said, is unrealistic. He said signs on doors, absent more, do not keep guns out. His measure would say guns can be kept out -- but only if building operators also add a security guard and a metal detector at each door. He said that's a fair compromise: If government wants to take away the ability of others to defend themselves, then it has a responsibility to ensure that NO ONE in the building is armed. Rep. Ruben Gallego said that will result in additional costs to cities, counties and state agencies. So he proposed some relief: Cities would have the option to keep their libraries, public pools and ball fields gun-free without the metal detectors.

(So if Gilbert wants to allow guns in, they're welcome to do it. If Phoenix wants to allow guns in, they're welcome to do it. If Phoenix does not want to allow guns in, then they do not have to put up the metal detector, the security guard at the entrance to every public library.)

That brought a sharp reaction from Rep. John Kavanagh.

(Since the right to keep and bear arms is a Second Amendment right, part of our bills of rights, I'm curious: What other amendments in the Bill of Rights would you like local governments to opt out to? Would you allow a local government to tell its police force to opt out of the Fourth Amendment and illegally search and seize people?)

Gallego said he wasn't here to debate the Second Amendment but instead what he sees as an unfunded mandate on communities.

(Residents are sometimes going to be a little irrational about guns. They going to have to go and find the money to pay for the security guard, the metal detector, as well as the gun locker. A lot of these cities have already balanced their budget. They have been balanced for at least a little while. And now they're going to have to go and find this money.)

Rep. Chester Crandell disagreed with Gallego's assessment that people don't want to see others with guns in their public buildings.

(I think I feel more safe if I can see the guns than those that are carrying, are trying to create some havoc, that are hiding those guns to be able to do those shootings and those killings.)

Nothing in this measure would affect the ability of state universities and community colleges to adopt rules to keep guns off their campuses. But that could soon change. A bill awaiting action by Gov. Jan Brewer would open the public rights of way on and through campuses to weapons. For Arizona Public Radio this is Howard Fischer.