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Arizona Senate rejects bill allowing guns in public buildings without metal detectors

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PHOENIX — The Arizona Senate rejected a bill Monday that would have allowed gun owners with concealed-carry permits to bring their weapons into public buildings.

Republican lawmakers have been pushing a suite of proposals intended to expand the rights of Arizona gun owners.

House Bill 2320 by Rep. Brenda Barton, R-Payson, was designed to require public establishments to allow permit-holders to carry their firearms inside or mandate that security guards and metal detectors be added at entrances.

Barton's proposal failed on a 14-15 vote, with Republicans Adam Driggs, Bob Worsley and Steve Pierce breaking ranks to vote with Democrats in opposition.

Sen. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, who supported the bill, said it was necessary because signs don't keep criminals from bringing guns into buildings.

"The bad guys laugh at the sign as they walk in with their illegal weapon," he said during debate.

The bill would let Arizona's more than 230,000 concealed-carry holders bring their firearms into public buildings that include courts, libraries and city and county offices, unless the building owners meet the bill's security requirements.

The proposal makes exceptions for public buildings including hospitals, schools and public establishments with liquor licenses.

Maricopa County found that if it prohibited firearms from all 378 county buildings that don't have security, the bill's mandates would cost $47 million in ongoing costs and $9 million in setup costs, according to legislative analysts.

In committee, Sen. Steve Farley, D-Tucson, said cities and counties shouldn't have to pay for security so that concealed carriers can keep their guns in public buildings. "This bill puts a literal gun to the heads of public bodies and says if you really want to keep your public buildings free from weapons you're going to have to pay for it," Farley said.

Brewer vetoed similar legislation three times in four years. In 2014, Brewer cited concerns about the fiscal impact on state and local governments. She called the bill "an unnecessary diversion of limited resources."

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