Arizona Republicans are pushing legislation to ensure that residents can carry their concealed weapons on any public thoroughfare even when it cuts through a school or university.
The House initially approved the measure Wednesday in conjunction with another proposal that would prevent state and local governments from enforcing new federal firearms laws or regulations.
Together the measures restrict and pre-empt firearms regulations at local and federal levels as part of an annual push by Arizona's Republican-controlled Legislature to maintain the state's Second Amendment protections, which are among the strongest in the nation.
Rep. Kelly Townsend, R-Mesa, sponsored the bill that would ensure residents could carry concealed weapons on or near school grounds as long as it's on a public street, sidewalk, path or alley maintained by a state or local government.
It would do that by stopping the State Board of Education and the Arizona Board of Regents from establishing rules that block people from carrying concealed weapons in their vehicles or on their person on public rights of way.
Advocates say the bill is necessary for places like Arizona State University's downtown campus, which has buildings throughout downtown Phoenix with public sidewalks and streets cutting between them.
Democratic Rep. Randall Friese of Tucson said the measure was overly broad and might invite strangers onto campus where they would be legally allowed to walk around with a firearm.
Townsend responded that Friese's statement is accurate, saying teachers, staffs, students and even strangers have the legal and constitutional right to carry a weapon on public rights of way.
The House also tentatively approved a bill by Rep. Anthony Kern, R-Glendale, barring any governmental agency in Arizona from enforcing new federal firearms laws or regulations.
The prohibitions in House Bill 2300 were crafted by gun-rights advocates who believe the federal government is poised to enact rules that violate the Second Amendment.
House Bill 2338 and House Bill 2300 received initial approval Wednesday. They now await a formal vote