Rim Country’s legislative delegation teamed up to introduce a bill that would protect the right of anyone with a concealed weapons permit to take a gun into public events and buildings.
Cities, towns and counties could only prevent someone with a concealed carry permit from bringing the gun into the event or building by providing metal detectors, security guards and some place for the person to leave the weapon.
Public agencies in the past have opposed similar bills based on the cost of providing such security screening at all public events and buildings.
The bill’s sponsors include Sen. Chester Crandell (R-Heber) and both Rep. Brenda Barton (R-Payson) and Rep. Bob Thorpe (R-Flagstaff), whose legislative district includes all of Northern Gila County.
Rep. Barton said that the law would actually increase the existing standard set by a law in 2006, which lets anyone bring a gun into public buildings unless the agency provides security and gun lockers.
She said SB 1063 would exempt anyone with a concealed carry permit from being charged with misconduct with a firearm after bringing a weapon into a public place like a council meeting. However, to get the concealed carry permit they have to undergo a background check to make sure they’re 21, not an indicted or convicted felon, not illegally present in the country, not prohibited from having a firearm under state or federal law, and not legally judged mentally incompetent or committed to a mental institution. They must also complete a safety course to get the concealed carry permit.
“It has been Arizona law since 2006 (I did not begin my tenure in the Legislature until 2011), that individuals are permitted to carry a lawful firearm and enter public buildings unless proper security of their firearm is provided through secure lockers that are both convenient and available. Nothing has changed,” Barton said in an e-mail to the Roundup.
The bill passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on a 5-2 vote and now awaits action in the Senate Rules Committee.
The League of Arizona Cities and Towns has taken a neutral position on the bill, on the grounds that the existing law already requires towns to provide storage for guns at each entrance if they want to keep them out of public buildings and events.
The current law concerning weapons misconduct makes it illegal to take a gun into a public place or event “if that person does not remove the weapons after reasonable request” if the operator of the place or event provides temporary secure storage that’s readily accessible on entry into the establishment or event, where the person can get the gun back readily upon leaving.