More than 170 weapons were seized by security at Arizona Capitol buildings in 2009, according to the Arizona Capitol Police.
The weapons seized include 117 knives, 54 handguns, three box-cutters, one can of Mace, one can of pepper spray, a wrench and an iron bar, said Andrew Staubitz, commander of the Capitol Police.
However, the items were only stored for safekeeping and were returned to their owners once they left the government building, he said.
“There’s no criminal violation,” Staubitz said. “Now, obviously, if they refuse to store their weapons or something along those lines, it can turn into an issue.”
Staubitz said the weapons are usually seized because their owners are simply carrying them as tools or are licensed gun holders, but the building managers don’t want weapons inside.
“Someone might not think much about having a knife in their pocket until they get to the magnetometer,” he said. “A lot of people carry a knife just as a tool or something like that. They’re not really thinking of it as a weapon.”
Staubitz said the level of security varies at different government buildings, but the security detail includes armed officers, off-duty unarmed officers and police assistants who manage security posts and run magnetometer and X-ray machines.
“By having those extra levels of security … they serve as a deterrent to people coming in because, obviously, if you’re carrying a concealed weapon or something of that nature, you’re probably not going to try to sneak through the magnetometer,” he said. “You’re going to be found out.”
Many of the weapons were seized at the Executive Tower and the Industrial Commission buildings, Staubitz said. At those two buildings, police confiscated 78 weapons, including the wrench and iron bar.
“There probably is more traffic (at those buildings), but there’s also more security,” he said. “At a building where there is no security, the possibility of these weapons going in is far greater.”