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What did the “Campus Concealed Carry” bill really say and why did the Governor veto it?

May 5, 2011 AZ CCW Laws, Campus Concealed Carry, Legal Issues Comments Off

Senate Bill 1467 was a very simply bill.  It would have simply amended the existing ARS statute 13-2911 with a single substantive paragraph.  The paragraph would have preserved the rights of the governing board of an educational institution to adopt rules to preserve public order on that institutions property which would govern the conduct of students, faculty, staff and visitors.  No changes there.  They could also still establish appropriate penalties for violation of those policies including suspension, expulsion and ejection from the property.

All the new law would have done would have been to make it impossible for the governing board to enforce a policy or rule that prohibits the lawful possession or carrying of a weapon on a “Public Right-of-Way”.  Now, what does that mean really…

Under current law, let say you happened to be walking down University Drive in Tempe.  As soon as you cross Mill Avenue traveling east on University you are on campus.  If you happen to be carrying a lawfully owned, properly permitted concealed firearm, you are now violating ASU policy and can be ejected from campus or charged with criminal trespass or misconduct with a firearm or both.  You are now a criminal.  Your crime…walking down a ‘public right-of-way’ in the City of Tempe.  The same thing applies if you happen to be driving in a car or riding a bus.

University Drive, Veteran’s Way and McAllister Avenue are all major thoroughfares through the City of Tempe that happen to go directly through the ASU Campus.  Plus there are dozens of other streets, Forest Avenue, Myrtle Avenue, 6th Street, 7th Street, all of which have businesses, restaurants and shops, all of which are now “off limits” to anyone carrying a lawfully concealed firearm.

Notice that I used the word ‘lawfully’.  Since most criminals intent on some type of mayhem are not particularly picky about breaking the law (it kind of goes with the territory for criminals), I would hazard a guess that the University policy against concealed carry on campus won’t bother or deter them.  Students, Faculty, Staff and Visitors may need to conduct necessary business on campus and to avoid problems with the policy may choose to remain unarmed.  This creates a great environment if you are a criminal.  As a criminal, you stand a good chance that few if any of the victims you might find on a college campus will be in a position to defend themselves.

While the law passed through the Legislature by a comfortable margin, the primary opposition came from the Democrat members of both the House and Senate.  In the House, 6 Republicans voted with the Democrats on this law.  Those six were:  Kate Brophy McGee, District 11; Heather Carter, District 7; Rick Gray, District 9; Russ Jones, District 24; Bob Robson, District 20; and Michelle Ugenti, District 8.  That Representative Ugenti voted against this was a bit of a surprise since during her campaign her slogan was “the Republican Party meets the Tea Party”.  Last time I checked, the Tea Party did not support restricting individual rights, particularly with respect to firearms.

The vote in the Senate was also largely along party lines with seven Democrats voting against the bill.  Interestingly, Democrat Senators Aboud and Sinema did not vote on this one.

University administrators lobbied hard against this one using the same tired arguments.  Let’s take a “point, counterpoint” look at the top three that are always used by those opposed to concealed carry on campus.

1.  Firearms on campus will increase the incidence of violent crime. In truth, this one is not borne out by statistics.  There are 11 college that allow concealed carry on campus.  There has not been a single incident, a single gun accident or a single gun theft.  Statistics show that licensed concealed handgun owners are 5 times less likely than non-permit holders to commit violent crimes.

2.  College students are not emotionally stable enough to be trusted with firearms. First, anyone wishing to get a concealed carry permit must be at least 21 years of age.  Personally, I know some 30 somethings that are not ‘emotionally stable enough to be trusted with firearms’.  There has to be an age threshold at some point.  Frankly,  this argument is insulting and condescending to thousands of responsible, mature students.  What about veterans and adult students?  What about the 18 year olds that are in military reserve service?  Are you starting to see how ridiculous this argument is?

3.  The answer to criminal violence on college campus is not ‘more guns’. Statistics fly in the face of this one for anyone who cares to look.  When states adopt broadly based concealed carry legislation, the rate of violent crime generally drops by a factor of 8% to 10% in the FIRST YEAR after such legislation is passed.  Criminals are now more concerned about the possibility that their prospective victim may be armed and literally do not commit as many crimes against persons.  Without the means to defend themselves on campus, the likelihood that a student will become a victim of a violent crime actually increases.

When asked about her veto, Governor Brewer stated that the term ‘public right-of-way’ was too vague and it was for this reason that she vetoed the bill.  Wikipedia says that a public right-of-way is defined as:  ”the right to travel unhindered, to access a route regardless of land ownership or any other legality”.  Seems pretty clear to me.

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