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Now Arizona Wants to Allow Concealed Guns on Campuses

Will Gov. Brewer and the state legislature listen now after the Tuscon massacre -- or continue Arizona down the path of gun violence?
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Arizona's weak gun laws could reach a new low this spring.

When the Arizona state legislature reconvenes tomorrow for the first day of the new session, two gun bills will be on the table for debate.

One bill--H2001--will allow faculty members to carry concealed weapons on campus.

The other bill--H2014--will prevent educational institutions from stopping a person from carrying a weapon with a valid permit.

In the blazing summer of 2009, Gov. Jan Brewer passed a law that allows Arizona residents to carry concealed weapons into bars and restaurants that serve alcohol.

Last spring, Brewer took Arizona one step further when she signed the "Firearm Freedom Act" that permits certain weapons and ammunition manufactured in Arizona to be sold without following any federal registration or regulations.

Brewer declared: "Politicians in Washington should not attempt to get between Arizonans and their constitutional rights."

More infamously, Brewer also signed another bill last April that allows Arizonans to carry concealed guns without a permit.

In the case of the tragic Tucson shooting yesterday, alleged assailant Jared Loughner fired 31 shots from a Glock 9-millimeter, a semiautomatic pistol he purchased legally in Tucson.

Pima County Sheriff Clarent Dupnik has been a long-time critic of the bill to allow weapons on campus. In a 2008 oped for the Tucson Citizen, he recalled a fatal shooting incident on the University of Arizona campus that led to chaos. Dupnik wrote: "Enacting legislation to allow people to carry concealed weapons on school campuses is not the solution to this problem. The reality is that such actions will further endanger innocent bystanders in these situations."

Nearly a year ago, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence ranked Arizona as one of the weakest states in the country for gun control. The Brady Campaign gave Arizona only two points on a scorecard of 100.

"Since Arizona does not require Brady criminal background checks on all firearm sales, including those at gun shows, gun traffickers don't need to leave the state to funnel illegal guns to felons and gang members," said Paul Helmke, President of the Brady Campaign. "Arizona officials have done nothing in the past year to stop the flow of illegal guns within the state, including closing the loophole that allows dangerous people to walk into gun shows and buy guns without background checks."

"Passing any one of these proposals would make the state even more dangerous," Hildy Saizow, Executive Director of Arizonans for Gun Safety, warned last year. "At a time when citizens are deeply concerned about budget cutbacks and jobs, this legislature is placing priorities on easing gun laws where there is little or no public support."

For state Rep. Daniel R. Patterson (D-Tucson), a gun owner and hunter, and an NRA member who earned a B-rating from the gun organization, the debate over H2001 bill to allow concealed weapons on campus "is a decision better made by regents and university presidents. They are in a much better position to decide what is safe." Patterson added: "I oppose this political meddling from the capital on campuses across the state. We need to get serious about balancing the budget and getting Arizona's economy on track."

Will Gov. Brewer and the state legislature listen now--or continue Arizona down the path of gun violence?