May 15, 2007
Senate presidentâ€™s firearms decision puts lawmakers ahead of Capital workers
Arizona Senate President Tim Bee, R-Tucson, has endorsed an unfair and discriminatory policy about the possession of guns within the Senate building that favors the Second Amendment rights of his colleagues but not the other people who work at their side every day.
There have been rumors for years at the state Capitol that some lawmakers carry concealed weapons into the hallways of the Senate and House despite policies that require everyone to surrender any guns at the front door unless they are active law enforcement officers. Those stories went unconfirmed, and in some cases were called outright lies, until last week when Sen. Karen Johnson, R-Mesa, told Capitol Media Services that she carries a .22 caliber revolver each day in her purse, which she leaves in her Senate office while she works in and around the Capitol.
Questioned about Johnsonâ€™s actions, Bee told Capitol Media Services said he believes lawmakers have been armed at least since 1994, when Arizona approved carrying concealed weapons with a special permit. But Bee essentially described legislative leaders as avoiding the question of whether lawmakers should comply with the rules, because no lawmakers had actually admitted to bringing their guns with them.
Now that someone has asked, and Johnson has told, Bee apparently has decided he will grant senators permission to carry weapons. As Capitol Media Services reported Saturday, state law gives operators of public buildings this option, as long as storage lockers are provided for those who are told they canâ€™t carry a gun inside.
We can grasp the logic of forcing visitors to the House and Senate to temporarily give up their weapons. The Legislature has remained quite open to the public, despite its statewide prominence, but that probably would be impossible to maintain without a strict weapons policy.
But how can Bee justify allowing lawmakers to carry weapons for personal protection, but deny that right to its staff members who often work late-night hours and especially to its security guards, many of whom are retired police officers? Arizonans are supposed to be represented in the Legislature by fellow citizens, not a body of officials which can claim special privileges and treats unavailable to anyone else.
The House apparently understands this, as Speaker Jim Weiers intends to continue its long-standing policy of not providing his colleagues any general exception to its weapons ban, Capitol Media Services reported. We can debate whether that places House members at some higher risk while they are at work. But at least no one is suggesting these lawmakers are entitled to special gun rights denied to everyone else.
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Reader comments (2)
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No weapons in the government buildings except for law enforcement officers on official duties. If a law enforcement officer is visiting a legislator, his/her weapons must be locked up. Only those patrolling the buildings should be authorized to carry weapons within the secured areas.
Rules should apply to all or none. The approval of weapons for the state senators is a slap on the face of everyone working in the building that is not a state senator. Suggest removal of this comment May 15, 2007
". . . especially to its security guards, many of whom are retired police officers. . . "
I guess this editorial writer is privy to the private employment records of the Legislature. I would be curious to know how many "many" is, and how do they know? Suggest removal of this comment May 15, 2007
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