Arizona Senate scales back campus guns bill - East Valley Tribune: Politics

Arizona Senate scales back campus guns bill

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Posted: Thursday, March 10, 2011 9:52 pm

State senators voted Thursday to let people carry their guns around the edges of college campuses and in some cases through them -- but not in the buildings.

As originally crafted, SB 1467 would have allowed those who have a state permit to carry a concealed weapon to bring a gun onto any state university or community college campus. That, however, proved too much for a majority of state senators to accept.

The version which gained preliminary approval on a voice vote allows the governing boards of each institution to keep their classrooms, laboratories and offices as gun-free zones.

But it would bar schools from prohibiting "lawful possession of carrying of a weapon on a public right-of-way.'' And that right would extend to anyone with a gun, whether concealed or just strapped to a hip.

That change has sent university officials scurrying to figure out what parts of their campus would -- and would not -- now be places where guns are allowed.

At the University of Arizona, for example, several streets run through the campus.

Lobbyist Greg Fahey said he knows that the city deeded parts of First and Second streets to the university years ago at no cost. But Fahey said there was a requirement that these streets remain open as public rights of way.

Less clear are other streets that extend into the campus from all sides.

"They're looking into it,'' Fahey said of university attorneys.

At Northern Arizona University, spokesman Tom Bauer said several of the streets running through the campus are public rights of way.

"We maintain them and we are allowed to set the speed limits,'' he said. But Bauer said that these streets are public, meaning that someone could walk through at least parts of campus with a gun.

Arizona State University also has various streets that go through its main campus in Tempe.

Sen. Ron Gould, R-Lake Havasu City, sponsor of SB 1467, said he still favors the original version of the bill. But he did not object to the change.

He told Capitol Media Services he was simply accepting reality. Gould said that lobbyist for the Arizona Citizens Defense League, who crafted the bill, told him he would never get the 16 votes necessary in the 30-member Senate for the bill as he wanted it.

A final roll-call vote will send the measure to the House.

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