Senator admits to toting gun at (Arizona) Capitol

Senator admits to toting gun at (Arizona) Capitol

This is a discussion on Senator admits to toting gun at (Arizona) Capitol within the Concealed Carry Issues & Discussions forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; By Howard Fischer Capitol Media Services An East Valley lawmaker and leading legislative proponent of easing state gun laws carries her weapon into the Senate ...

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Thread: Senator admits to toting gun at (Arizona) Capitol

  1. #1
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    Senator admits to toting gun at (Arizona) Capitol

    By Howard Fischer
    Capitol Media Services


    An East Valley lawmaker and leading legislative proponent of easing state gun laws carries her weapon into the Senate building - an apparent violation of state law. Sen. Karen Johnson, R-Mesa, made the admission Thursday to Capitol Media Services while explaining why she is pushing legislation to ease the penalty on those who carry a concealed weapon without getting the required state permit.

    SB1629 gained final Senate approval on a 21-5 vote. It is now on the desk of Gov. Janet Napolitano, who has refused to say whether it will meet the same fate as a similar measure she vetoed last week.

    Johnson said she personally believes that those who want to carry a gun not visible to others should go through the required training and background check. But she said those who don't should not be subject to a six-month jail term, as the law currently allows.

    Her legislation, SB1629, would reduce the penalty to a $300 fine for a first offense.

    Johnson said there are lots of reasons for people not to want to carry a gun in the open.

    "I carry my gun in my purse," she said, saying anything else is impractical for someone wearing a dress. "For a woman, that's basically what she would be doing, is carrying it concealed."

    Johnson said her gun, a .22-caliber eight-shot revolver, is "everywhere I go." And that, she said, includes when she comes into the Senate building, though she leaves her purse - and the gun in it - in her office when she goes to the Senate floor.

    State law makes it a crime for anyone to bring a weapon into a public building "unless specifically authorized by law." The statute creates exceptions for police officers, members of the military performing official duties and officers of the Department of Corrections.

    Violators can be sentenced to up to six months in jail.

    Questions to Senate security staff were referred to Senate President Tim Bee, who was not available for comment Thursday.

    Johnson may not be the only legislator who brings a weapon into the Capitol complex. Several lawmakers questioned by Capitol Media Services said they have permits to carry concealed weapons. That includes House Speaker Jim Weiers.

    But only Senate Minority Leader Marsha Arzberger, D-Willcox, admitted - sort of - that her gun was close.

    Asked specifically if she has her weapon in the Senate, Arzberger refused to answer the question outright. "But I will say I carry it everywhere I go," she said, adding her weapon of choice is a .38-caliber revolver.

    Senate Majority Whip John Huppenthal, R-Chandler, said he is not particularly alarmed that some colleagues may be armed. In fact, Huppenthal said he finds it comforting.

    He said security in both the House and Senate is minimal. Visitors do not need to pass through any metal detectors. And the guards - with the exception of a lone Department of Public Safety officer in each building - are unarmed.

    "There are places that you read about where, every once in a while where somebody wanders down the hall killing everybody," he said.

    "I just wonder what would happen to us in those situations," Huppenthal continued. "If they got by the security guards, we're in a world of hurt."

    Others, however, were not so sure. "I don't think it makes any sense," said Rep. Lucy Mason, R-Prescott, who does have a permit to carry a concealed weapon but doesn't bring it to the Capitol.
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  2. #2
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    Bee: OK for lawmakers to carry guns

    By Howard Fischer
    Capitol Media Services

    Tucson, Arizona | Published: 05.12.2007

    PHOENIX — The president of the state Senate said Friday he sees nothing wrong with lawmakers bringing loaded weapons into the building.

    Tim Bee, a Tucson Republican, said he believes armed legislators actually have been around for a number of years "at least since a 1994 state law authorized people to legally carry concealed weapons". Bee said his predecessors never made an issue of it.

    But Bee acknowledged it was a sort of "don't ask/don't tell" policy. He said it was not until Sen. Karen Johnson, R-Mesa, said Thursday that she carries her .22-caliber revolver into the building each day that anyone asked about the practice. "We have members who stay late at night," Bee said, including women. "Obviously they feel that carrying their gun with them makes them feel safe."

    Victor Riches, Bee's chief of staff, said it is not illegal for his boss to allow lawmakers to carry loaded weapons into the building. He said a state law prohibiting individuals from having firearms in public buildings is "optional," permitting the operator of a public building to ban guns by both posting a sign at the entrance and providing a place for visitors to check their weapons.

    The Senate does both. In fact, anyone else who comes in the building is required to check weapons at the door. That disparate treatment is appropriate, said Bee. "The reason for putting them (the guns) in the lockers is, we don't know who is coming into the building," he said.

    The weapons policy across the courtyard is different. Barrett Marson, spokesman for House Speaker Jim Weiers, said no one is allowed to bring a weapon into that building.

    That policy lets the speaker "authorize exceptions … as deemed appropriate to the circumstances."

    Marson said Weiers has not granted any exceptions. That includes the speaker himself, who has a permit to carry a concealed weapon but does not bring it into the building.

    The issue of weapons in buildings calls into question whether there is sufficient security. There are no metal detectors in either the House or Senate buildings, and most guards are unarmed.

    Riches said the Senate is exploring several security changes, including requiring visitors to pass through a metal detector. But Marson said Weiers does not see that as an option.
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    Nice to hear they are trying to change carry laws, but violating the law, then publicly announcing it is just plain foolish. They make the conceal carry public look bad , by their poor example of ignoring the laws they may have helped create.
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    Rocky makes a good point but certainly - any state any place, I sure would like to see all ''gun-free zones'' done away with.
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    What makes me mad about it is that state legislators here have been ignoring, if not outright excepted from it, for years. The US congress does the same thing. There should be a blanket law, IMO, that requires all legislators, from every state, to conform to all of the laws the same as everyone else is expected to. Here in Arizona, our legislature has a different retirement plan than state employees, which is the same as congress not having to be a part of Social Security. It is very much a "do as I say, not as I do" and expect it is the same in most states.....
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    I think the idea of reducing the penalty for a law essentially aimed at bad guys is a bad idea. A statute like that is a great way to get a charge on someone who is up to no good, but simply hasn't gotten around to choosing a victim/committing an act of crime and/or violence.

    Instead of reducing the penalty for breaking the law, they should make it easier for citizens to carry weapons legally.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AgentX View Post
    I think the idea of reducing the penalty for a law essentially aimed at bad guys is a bad idea. A statute like that is a great way to get a charge on someone who is up to no good, but simply hasn't gotten around to choosing a victim/committing an act of crime and/or violence.

    Instead of reducing the penalty for breaking the law, they should make it easier for citizens to carry weapons legally.
    +1 on that. but i also think they should be held to the same standard as the rest of the citizenry....
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    Quote Originally Posted by rocky View Post
    Nice to hear they are trying to change carry laws, but violating the law, then publicly announcing it is just plain foolish. They make the conceal carry public look bad , by their poor example of ignoring the laws they may have helped create.


    The president of the state Senate said Friday he sees nothing wrong with lawmakers bringing loaded weapons into the building
    They technically are not breaking the law. If the President of the Senate allows them to carry in the Senate Bldg no law was broken. In AZ the Owner, Manager or whoever is in charge of the property or building can allow employees to carry.
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    I hope she doesn't get arrested!
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    Quote Originally Posted by rocky View Post
    Nice to hear they are trying to change carry laws, but violating the law, then publicly announcing it is just plain foolish. They make the conceal carry public look bad , by their poor example of ignoring the laws they may have helped create.
    Actually, I think she is doing just the opposite. She sees an unjust law and is in a situation where her civil disobedience will bring light to the situation while not forcing someone else who doesn't enjoy her immunity to pay the penalty for the same disobedience. That doesn't bring discredit to her or to concealed carriers, in fact, it does the opposite, it shows she has the integrity to actively take on an injustice.

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