Arizona House passes law allowing guns on campuses

PHOENIX Thu Apr 7, 2011 7:58pm EDT

Related Topics

PHOENIX (Reuters) - The Arizona House on Thursday approved a landmark bill allowing guns on campuses, making it only the second state in the nation to allow firearms to be carried at colleges and universities.

The Republican-led House voted 33 to 24 to allow firearms to be carried in the open or concealed in public rights of way, such as campus streets and roadways.

"We're allowing people to defend themselves," said Rep. David Gowan Sr., a Republican, who voted for the bill.

"The purpose of carrying a gun with you is to defend yourself against that aggressor," he added.

The measure now goes to Arizona's Republican Governor Jan Brewer. She has not said if she will sign it into law but has been a strong gun-rights advocate in the past.

If the measure is enacted, Arizona would join Utah as the only states to specifically allow such gun rights. Utah goes one step further, allowing firearms inside campus buildings.

The move comes as opponents and supporters face off across the country over gun laws, with nine states this year seeking to broaden citizens' rights to tote firearms on campuses.

Supporters of Arizona's bill argue that a person's constitutional right to bear arms should not be taken away just because he or she is on a campus. They claim that allowing guns there could save lives in the event of a campus shooting.

But the bill faced widespread opposition from college and university administrators, faculty and law enforcement officials.

Opponents claimed it would put campus police at a dangerous disadvantage in trying to prevent campus shootings.

Faculty groups at the state's three universities passed resolutions against the bill.

Rep. Steve Farley, a Democrat, said the idea strikes at the heart of higher education and will make it hard to attract top-flight faculty and staff.

"I don't believe this is a good move for us," he told legislators during the vote. "I think it compromises the key core goal of our universities ... (to) have a free and unintimidating exchange of ideas."

Other lawmakers questioned the bill because it does not specifically define what constitutes public rights of way. They said a legal challenge is likely.

(Reporting by David Schwartz; Editing by Tim Gaynor and Ellen Wulfhorst)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (6)
gordo365 wrote:
Live by the sword – die by the sword.

Apr 07, 2011 8:10pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
uk1981 wrote:
yes, it is excellent idea to allow screened persons to carry concealed and open handguns. No one knows when some criminal wants to make a meal of you anywhere. We all know that Law Enforcement are busy writing reports and filling out paper. So we must defend ourself. If the world were safe and the criminals were not out to do you harm or steal from you then it would be different. The whole reason we have criminal trials is because the cops failed to stop the crime in progress – try telling a rape victim or the survivors of a home invasion that the cops are there to serve and to protect you.

Apr 07, 2011 8:23pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Jackleg wrote:
Good for AZ! As a college student in Utah, I am confident that whn I attend class that I have the tools necessary to defend myself from the degenerate lunatics of the world. I carry my firearm to school everyday and know several professors that carry as well. A gun is just a tool and only as dangerous as the person holding it. I am glad AZ will be joining us in the fight to allow people to defend themselves, no matter where they are. As for disrupting classes or intimidating anyone, that situation has never happened at my school. Most of the feedback I have recieved about Open or Concealed carry has been curiosity or support. Go AZ!

Apr 07, 2011 8:37pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.