Brewer vetoes campus guns bill, ‘birther’ bill

Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed a bill Monday that would have allowed guns on college and university campuses.

Senate Bill 1467 proposed allowing people to carry concealed weapons in “public right of way” areas, like sidewalks and courtyards at educational facilities. Universities and community colleges would not have been able to block people from carrying concealed weapons on campus except inside buildings.

Brewer vetoed the bill, saying in a statement that she felt it was “poorly written” and left too many unclear provisions.

“Bills impacting our Second Amendment rights have to be crystal clear so that gun owners don’t become lawbreakers by accident,” Brewer said.

She said the bill failed to define what exactly a “public right of way” area was, adding that Arizona law includes several different definitions of the term.

She also criticized lawmakers for suggesting that courts play a role in clarifying parts of the bill.

“One proponent of the bill stated that a court would have to be the final arbiter in deciding what constitutes a ‘public-right-of-way,’” Brewer said. “We don’t need the courts to write our gun laws. That is the job of the Legislature.”

The bill would have added Arizona colleges to the 71 other college campuses across the nation that allow concealed weapons.

ASU President Michael Crow publicly opposed the bill, saying he was concerned about the impact that allowing firearms on campus would have.

“[SB 1467] poses an unjustifiable threat to thousands of children as well as our students, faculty and staff,” Crow said in a letter to Brewer on April 8.

Crow also said the ambiguity of the language in the bill should have been enough for the governor to veto the bill.

“Given the ambiguity of the term ‘public right-of-way’, some might argue that it includes all outdoor public areas, which raises the unsettling prospect of students carrying guns while attending outdoor rallies, speeches or protests,” Crow said.

SB 1467 passed the House with a 33-24 vote on April 7, with five Republicans voting against it. The bill passed the Senate along party lines in March.

Michael Wimmer, a chemistry senior and the Arizona State Director of Students for Concealed Carry on Campus said the guns bill championed Second Amendment rights and campus safety.

“The fact remains that people that seek to do harm to others will find ways to obtain firearms and are looking to break the law anyway,” Wimmer said. “Going to a school that enacts a ‘gun free zone’ does nothing more than keep firearms out of the hands of the responsible, law abiding students.”

Sen. Steve Gallardo, D-Phoenix, was a fervent opponent of guns on campus and was pleased with the governor’s decision.

“Having additional guns on a university campus is not the solution to making our campuses safer,” Gallardo said. “The Arizona Legislature needs to address the accessibility of firearms. We should do everything we can to make sure that the bad guys are not in possession of firearms.”

Another bill allowing guns in all public buildings passed the Legislature and is headed to Brewer’s desk.

Brewer also vetoed the “birther bill” on Monday, which would have required presidential candidates to prove they were born in the United States in order to appear on Arizona’s ballots.

House Bill 2177 called for the Arizona secretary of state to judge the qualifications of every candidate appearing on the ballot. Brewer, a former secretary of state, said these provisions made one person the gatekeeper to the ballot.

“I never imagined being presented with a bill that could require candidates for president of the greatest and most powerful nation on earth to submit their ‘early baptismal or circumcision certificates’ among other records to the Arizona Secretary of State,” Brewer said in a statement. “This is a bridge too far.”

Republicans have a large enough majority in both houses to override vetoed bills. If attempted, the bills could become law with the approval of two-thirds of legislators.

Reach the reporter at beth.easterbrook@asu.edu


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