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Brewer vetoes bill on guns in government buildings

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Gov. Jan Brewer on Friday vetoed a bill that would have allowed people to carry guns into most government buildings that don’t have armed guards or metal detectors in place.

The bill was one of 14 that the Republican governor vetoed Friday as she completed action on items the GOP-led Legislature approved during its 2011 regular session. Brewer also signed 29 bills Friday. In all, she signed 357 bills and vetoed 29.

Topics of other bills vetoed Friday included business property taxes, county personnel changes, fireworks and the state’s Sept. 11 monument. Bills she signed Friday include ones regarding drunken-driving laws and public employee retirement systems.

Brewer said the gun bill’s many provisions on various firearms topics lacked clarity, including where guns would have been prohibited and where they would have been allowed.

Describing herself as a gun-rights backer, Brewer said she will work in coming months on “a clear and pragmatic solution to expand the application of our Second Amendment rights in Arizona.”

While critics called the bill an unfunded mandate on local governments because of the security costs that would be needed to ban guns, supporters said the bill would protect the rights of gun owners and allow them to defend themselves if attacked in a public building that doesn’t have security in place.

The veto leaves law-abiding people disarmed in “self-defense free zones,” the bill’s sponsor, Republican Sen. Ron Gould of Lake Havasu, said in a Twitter post Friday night.

The bill wouldn’t have applied to courthouses, prosecutor’s offices and police buildings. The bill also exempted public events and multipurpose facilities used for sporting events, conventions or other cultural activities.

The measure would not have lifted the current ban on taking guns into K-12 schools, nor would it have disturbed a state law that lets colleges and universities have bans of their own.

Public comments received by Brewer in support of the bill outnumbered those against it, 754 to 111, according to a tally released Friday by Brewer’s office. It reported comments received on pending legislation during the seven days that ended Wednesday.

Brewer this year signed several minor bills supported by gun-rights advocates but she vetoed a major one April 18.

That bill would have allowed guns on public rights of way on university and community college campuses. She said it was so poorly written and subject to interpretation that it could apply to K-12 schools.

Brewer in the past two years signed two major gun-rights measures. One allows concealed weapon permit holders to bring firearms in bars and restaurants that serve alcohol, unless the establishment prohibits it. The other made Arizona the third state to allow carrying a concealed weapon without a permit in most places.

A legislative fiscal report on the public buildings bill said it would cost from $5,000 to $95,000 to secure each public entrance to a state or local government building, depending on whether personnel to guard the entrance are already present.

Approximately $5,000 per entrance would be one-time expenses for purchase of screening equipment and gun storage lockers, while costs for security personnel would ben ongoing expense, according to the analysts.

The Jan. 8 mass shooting in Tucson was a prominent element of the Senate’s debate on the bill, but it was hardly mentioned during the House’s subsequent vote. The assassination attempt on U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in a shopping center parking lot left six people dead and wounded 12 others besides the congresswoman.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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