PHOENIX — It doesn’t look like Arizonans are going to be able to bring their guns into public buildings.
On a 15-14 vote, the Senate voted Monday to kill House-passed legislation that would allow those with state-issued permits to carry concealed weapons to ignore “no guns” signs that government agencies post.
With three Republicans and all Democrats in opposition, the chances of resurrecting this in the last days of the session are slim.
Monday’s vote came over the objections of supporters who said the signs are no real deterrent.
“The bad guys laugh at the sign as they walk in with their weapon,” said Sen. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills. Only law-abiding citizens check their weapons, meaning they are unarmed and unable to protect themselves, he said.
The failure of HB 2320 leaves the law as it has been for years.
Individuals are presumed to be allowed to carry weapons into public buildings. But the law says they can be blocked if the operator of the building posts a sign at each entrance and makes lockers available so people can check their weapons and not have to leave them home or in their vehicles.
This legislation was designed to benefit the more than 232,000 Arizonans who have obtained state-issued permits to carry concealed weapons.
While a permit is not required — a 2011 law lets any adult have a concealed weapon — those with the permits get special privileges, such as being allowed to bring their guns into bars if they agree not to drink.
HB 2320 would have extended that to public buildings unless the operators put metal detectors and guards at each public entrance.
That led to complaints by cities of what they said were unnecessary costs, with some estimates putting the figure in excess of $100,000 per entrance per year. But Sen. Debbie Lesko, R-Peoria, said those financial concerns are unwarranted.
She said they could simply allow permit holders to bring in their guns, which wouldn’t cost them anything.
“I feel much safer if CCW carriers (carrying a concealed weapon) are in that building to protect us and other law-abiding citizens,” Lesko said.
Kavanagh echoed that theme, saying, “This is simply about letting honest, decent people who we don’t have to fear have weapons in public buildings so that if ... one of the criminals that disregards the sign begins to shoot, they’ll be able to protect themselves.”