Republicans in the Arizona House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday evening to repeal a law that bans the concealed carrying of guns within 1,000 feet of schools.
Senate Bill 1474 would allow anyone over the age of 21 to carry a properly licensed firearm inside any educational institution. It would also forbid university administrators from adopting any policy “that restricts or prohibits the carrying or transporting of a concealed weapon” on school grounds.
While the measure still has yet to clear the Arizona Senate, it is seen as likely to pass, although it is not yet clear if Gov. Jan Brewer (R) will sign it. She was, however, endorsed by the National Rifle Association, the nation’s largest gun lobby.
Every single Democrat in Arizona’s House voted against the bill, but it was still approved due to the overwhelming number of elected Republicans in the state’s government.
The proposal’s backers claim their bill would enable parents who carry guns to bring their children to school without having to park 1,000 feet away, or risk arrest by dropping them off at the front of the building. They also point to text in the legislation that would still allow universities to prohibit guns inside their buildings, provided there is a gun safe near the premises.
The state’s largest colleges estimated last month that the bill could end up costing them over $13 million for the construction of gun safes outside of their buildings, along with an additional $3.1 million annually for enhanced campus security. Individual gun safes can cost anywhere between $200 to more than $1,000 each.
Arizona does not require permits to purchase or carry most handguns, rifles and shotguns, but they must be carried openly if the owner transports them out of their residence or business. The state only issues concealed weapons permits to individuals who submit fingerprints, undergo a background check and pass a firearms safety course.
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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