AZ legislature passes sweeping gun bill

Published: Apr. 14, 2011 at 10:52 PM MST|Updated: Apr. 20, 2011 at 12:12 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (KOLD) - Legislation that could force costly changes on public places that want to ban guns is ready for the governor's signature.

The Arizona Senate has approved a sweeping overhaul of Arizona's gun laws, covering everything from allowing loaded guns in cars on school grounds, to requiring metal detectors and armed guards if you want to keep guns out of public events.

Senate Bill 1201 would make it more difficult and expensive to ban guns from public buildings.

And what else you think this bill does, depends on your point of view.

Either way, from Tucson City Hall to the Pima County Administration Building, it's going to change things if it becomes law.

While there is no state law that bans weapons from many public buildings, the state allows its political subdivisions...from cities and counties, to boards and ban weapons.

But under SB1201, having gun lockers and signs banning weapons in a government building or facility would no longer be enough.

Under the bill, if a government, such as the City of Tucson would want to ban guns, it would have to post a sign, and have a metal detector and an armed guard and a place to lock up the gun.

That's what the city now has at the council chambers.

One city leader calls the state bill an unfunded mandate.

Ward 6 Republican City Councilman Steve Kozachik says, "We were struggling having to hire a private agency just for city council meetings. If we have to do this at every venue, at every one of our facilities, we haven't got the cash. If the state want to ante up the money, then fine and dandy. This is their brainchild."

The gun rights organization Arizona Citizens Defense League requested this bill.

One of the organization's co-founders disagrees with Councilman Kozachik.

Charles Heller says, "That's not a mandate to spend money. You got two choices. You can either take down the sign or you can secure the building."

Heller continues, "It says to the government, if you are going to invoke disarmament, you must ensure disarmament. It secures the building."

Weapons still would not be allowed inside court buildings, schools and secure police facilities or in university campus buildings.

Heller says, "They've got several amendments in the bill where it will not apply to university. We couldn't get that done this year. We'd like to, but next year."

Also weapons would not be allowed where alcohol is served.

Kozachik says, "The facetious answer is to offer beer at city council meetings."

But Kozachik says, seriously, he is concerned about places like the Tucson Convention Center where alcohol is served at some events, but usually not at children's events.

"If you have a kiddy event where they're not selling alcohol, according to this legislation, people would allowed to carry firearms into those events," Kozachik says.

"They need simply channel everyone in through only one or two doors, put up a metal detector. You can rent a temporary metal detector. And hire two off-duty police officers," Heller counters.

It comes down to philosophies.

Heller says, "If you make a building weapons-free, then secure it. It says that the people's lives are worth something."

Kozachik says, "We don't need weapons in public facilities. We don't need weapons at swimming pools. We don't need weapons at the Muppets show at the Tucson convention Center. It doesn't make us safer."

Now that the legislature has passed the bill, it goes to Governor Jan Brewer's desk.

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