State lawmakers are moving to strip cities of any last vestiges of local regulation of guns.
On a voice vote Thursday, the Senate approved legislation to bar local governments from enacting any rules more prohibitive than state laws or carrying a greater penalty about who can carry a gun and where that person can go with a gun. SB1168 expands existing laws that already pre-empt some local rules to take in anything that a city might want to regulate, including storage, licensing and registration.
Any existing regulation that is in conflict would disappear if SB1168 becomes law.
Most immediately, the legislation would overturn rules some communities have about people bringing weapons into city parks.
It would not, by itself, kill regulations that universities and community colleges now have to keep weapons off their campuses. That's because a separate state statute specifically gives the governing boards of these institutions the power to regulate conduct, including the possession of weapons.
But Sen. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, who crafted the legislation, has made it clear that is one of his goals. He calls the campuses "no-defense zones" where people are disarmed and can't defend themselves against criminals.
"You take Virginia Tech: 32 students were killed because nobody was able to defend them," Pearce said. Elsewhere, he said, "lives were saved" when those with weapons were able to kill criminals.
Sen. Linda Lopez, D-Tucson, attempted to foreclose that option by altering SB1168 to spell out that any state pre-emption of local regulations cannot affect colleges and universities. That amendment was defeated.
But Pearce noted that the change she sought was irrelevant: Without or without his bill - and with or without her amendment - lawmakers always remain free to repeal the separate law letting governing boards regulate guns.
Pearce said there are places where it is inappropriate for people to carry guns, such as into courthouses.
"But that ought to be a debate here at the Legislature and a policy set by this body," he said, rather than each community coming up with its own regulations.
That specifically goes for parks, Pearce said, which is why his measure is worded the way it is.
"Some (cities) don't allow even concealed weapon (permit) holders" in their parks, he said. Pearce said the state definitely should not be restricting those who have gone through the required training and background checks to get those permits to protect themselves.
"The most dangerous place you can travel today at dark is in a city park," he said.
A final roll-call vote will send the measure to the House.