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Brewer vetoes bill allowing guns in buildings

Terry Tang

Gov. Jan Brewer has vetoed a bill that would have allowed guns in public buildings.

The governor's office announced the veto Tuesday. The bill proposed permitting gun owners to carry firearms into government facilities that lacked security.

The bill would have required the use of law enforcement officers or armed security guards with metal detectors or X-ray machines. Signs and storage lockers would also be needed.

In her veto letter, Brewer said the decision to allow guns into "sensitive places such as schools and government buildings" should be a decision reached cooperatively by citizens, law enforcement officials and local government leaders.

Supporters of the bill say citizens have a right to defend themselves. Charles Heller, a spokesman for the Arizona Citizens Defense League which pushed for the legislation, said the governor had failed Arizona gun owners. Although Brewer may be a supporter of Second Amendment rights, she failed to demonstrate that for Arizonans, Heller said.

"She's denying others the security that she has on the 9th floor," Heller said.

Heller said allowing buildings to ban weapons with just a sign doesn't enhance public safety.

"If they want to protect the building, then they need to have security," Heller said. "If they don't want to protect the building, then let people protect themselves."

Opponents of the bill say the measure would come at a huge cost to cities and towns.

Similarly, Brewer expressed concerns about the financial impact on jurisdictions across the state.

"They would face this choice: Either spend untold dollars in order to provide their officials and employees the same level of protection that we have at the Arizona State Capitol complex, or accept weapons on the premises," Brewer wrote.

The League of Arizona Cities and Towns, which opposed the bill, was pleased by Brewer's decision, said Executive Director Ken Strobeck.

"This would have been `one size fits all' legislation. That is just totally impractical when talking about the number of public buildings and the cost of every one of those entrances and the fact it's just inappropriate to have firearms in places where controversial decisions are being made," Strobeck said.

Brewer also said the bill would have led to confusion as to which public buildings accept or ban weapons.

Brewer vetoed a similar bill last year. She said this version failed to address the majority of her previous concerns.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, nine states have similar gun laws to what Arizona lawmakers had proposed.

The Associated Press