PHOENIX — A bill allowing loaded guns to come on school campuses is making its way through the Arizona Legislature. On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee, by a vote of 4-3, sent the measure to the Senate for final passage.
House Bill 2693 changes the wording of existing law to allow for loaded guns on school grounds, provided they remain locked in a vehicle and out of view. Under the current law, gun owners must unload their weapon before driving onto school property.
Supporters like guns rights activist Dave Kopp of the Arizona Citizen Defense League believe it's a common sense approach to gun safety.
"By definition when you are using a dangerous instrument, minimization of handling is important," Kobb says. Others see it differently.
Retired teacher Judith Simons told the committee, "'Ignorance of the law is no excuse' seems to be changing to 'ignorance of the law we'll change it.'"
The committee vote was along party lines, with the Republican majority in favor. Lake Havasu City Senator Sonny Borrelli, a yes vote, said, "The bottom line on this bill is about dropping off kids to school, you don't have to unload a firearm while you are in your car."
Democrat Andrea Dalessandro from Santa Cruz countered, "this bill is going the wrong way. We should be looking at sensible gun reform."
While the bill, which already passed the House, seems headed for Governor Ducey's desk, it may not pass legal scrutiny. Nearly every school is a gun-free zone under federal law. A 1990 law Congress enacted restricts who can have a weapon on school property.
The committee asked Daniel Reed of the National Rifle Association whether the proposal meets the standard for a gun-free zone. Reed told the committee he didn't know but added, "I can look into that." The Judiciary Committee didn't wait for Reed to find out.