Some lawmakers have begun bringing firearms to the state Capitol, citing a growing fear of Rep. Daniel Patterson, whose alleged hostile outbursts and erratic behavior were detailed in an investigative report on Monday.
Rep. Ruben Gallego, a Phoenix Democrat and Iraq war veteran, said he brought his 9mm pistol to work today.
Gallego said that bringing a weapon to the Capitol is just one safety precaution being taken while Patterson is facing ethics charges – and possible expulsion from the House of Representatives – in connection to his domestic violence charges.
“Some state representatives are having security walk them from place to place, other state representatives have brought their personal weapons to work,” Gallego said.
Gallego said he knows of at least three other House members from both parties who are carrying weapons, but he wouldn’t identify them.
“Just look for the bulge in the lower back or the bulge at the ankle,” Gallego said.
Gallego said he always takes safety precautions when he carries his weapon, and he said he will not actually bring it to the floor. Rather, he said he keeps it in his office.
House Minority Leader Chad Campbell refused to say whether he brought a gun to the Capitol grounds, but did make a point of saying that he didn’t bring one into the building. He said he also has heard that other lawmakers are arming themselves.
“Look, I don’t have one on me right now,” Campbell said from the House floor. “I didn’t bring one onto the floor or into the building.”
During a press conference held immediately after House Democrats unsuccessfully tried to have Patterson expelled from the House, Campbell explained why there is such an urgent sense of danger.
Campbell said the wide-ranging description of Patterson’s behavior found in the ethics report released on Monday confirms separate allegations about Patterson that have long been whispered at the Capitol.
“You hear things here and there. Some things you may think are true, some things you may think are rumor, but you don’t hear everything obviously. And none of us knew the full extent of what was going on until we read this report,” Campbell said. “This behavior, this pattern, is not getting better. It’s getting worse.”
Patterson earlier told the Arizona Capitol Times that claims of lawmaker safety being threatened are “ridiculous.”
“I’m not a threat to anyone. There’s no reason for anyone to be concerned,” he said in a voicemail message on Monday evening. “I think it’s outrageous how low people will stoop with these ridiculous allegations.”
Campbell said that if something tragic were to happen at the Capitol because Patterson is allowed continued access to it, it would be the result of not taking swift action to remove Patterson or severely restrict and monitor him.
Campbell said that as an alternative to immediate expulsion, he would be amenable to having Patterson escorted by security to the floor only to cast votes, and to restrict him from any other activity at the Capitol.
Campbell said House Speaker Andy Tobin has not taken those actions yet, despite his requests.