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PHOENIX (AP) — A House Republican concerned about active shooter situations has introduced a measure allowing holders of concealed weapons permits to carry firearms on college campuses.
Bill sponsor Rep. Sonny Borrelli, R-Lake Havasu City, said Wednesday that recent school shootings in Oregon at Umpqua Community College and Northern Arizona University highlight the Legislature's need to examine the issue. "We have to have a responsible conversation about firearms on campus," Borrelli said.
House Bill 2072 bars universities and their governing boards from adopting any rule that stops a faculty member or student from carrying a firearm on campus. The bill says they can carry their weapons as long as they have concealed carry permits and abide by guidelines established by either colleges and universities or the Arizona Board of Regents.
Eight states have similar laws, including Colorado, Idaho, Kansas and Oregon. The Texas legislature has passed a bill set to take effect in August, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Arizona law doesn't prohibit people from carrying weapons on college campuses, but the Arizona Board of Regents does not allow students or faculty to carry any weapons on campus or at any university-sponsored activity except when it's locked in a vehicle and hidden from view. Community colleges also do not generally allow firearms on campuses.
Borrelli said the Board of Regents' current policy is not protecting students or faculty. He said he welcomes stakeholder meetings with the board to develop the language of the measure.
Arizona has more than 250,000 registered carriers. To get a permit, individuals must be over 21 years old, go through a background check and have firearms training.
Borrelli said that while he doesn't think everyone should be able to carry a firearm on college campuses, those who have concealed weapons permits are responsible enough to carry.
"There are certain regulations you need to adhere to," he said. "I'm more concerned about the nut who is carrying on campus, who is not playing by the rules."
Sen. Steve Farley, D-Tucson, said it's the role of university police, not students and faculty, to provide safety and security on campuses. He said that police cannot tell the difference between an active shooter and a "good guy" when they are both holding firearms.
"They do not want a so-called hero on the scene of the shooting because they don't know who is the good guy and who is the shooter," Farley said.
The Arizona Board of Regents is not taking a formal position on the bill until its members have an opportunity to collectively read through the measure, said Sarah Harper, spokeswoman for the board. Officials from state's largest community college district, Maricopa County, has not yet begun looking at legislative bills, but have opposed similar measures in the past, spokesman Tom Gariepy said.
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