Groups want guns allowed in Arizona schools
PHOENIX — Two Arizona gun-rights groups said Wednesday that lawmakers should consider letting specially trained teachers and administrators carry guns into public schools to protect students against future attacks.
Ken Rineer, president of Gun Owners of Arizona, said there is no reason to continue such a ban.
“I think we've had more campus school shootings since enactment of the law than before,” he said of the federal Gun-Free School Zones Act, first approved in 1990. Arizona has a separate ban on guns on school campuses to deal with exceptions to the federal statute.
And the Arizona Citizens Defense League said the news coverage of the shootings in Connecticut that killed 26, including 20 children, misses the point.
“The main issue here is not that a deranged individual gained access to a firearm, as there is very little anyone could do to prevent that,” the organization's statement read. “It's that anyone who could have stopped his rampage could not gain access to a firearm.”
The bottom line, said spokesman Charles Heller, is more people with guns creates a safer environment.
“You shoot the attacker and stop the attack,” he said. “It stops people from getting killed.”
Both Heller and Rineer said they are not advocating arming every teacher and staffer. Instead, they said, those with special training should have immediate access to weapons should the need arise.
“Let's experiment with this a little bit,” Rineer said, perhaps having some staffers go through the same training as a federal air marshal.
“Lock up an AR-15 (rifle) or something in their principal's office so if something breaks loose they can get the weapon out of the safe and defend children,” he said.
Sen. Rick Murphy, R-Glendale, said he wants a go-slow approach to any changes in the law to avoid unintended consequences.
“We know what we want to stop,” said Murphy, who will chair the Senate Judiciary Committee this coming session. “But are the proposals that are being made, whatever they are, actually going to accomplish that goal, or are they just going to make us feel good that we did something?”
The possibility of permitting guns in schools is getting a noncommittal response from Gov. Jan Brewer.
“The governor would need to see the specific legislation before she could take a position on something like that,” said press aide Matthew Benson. He said Brewer has no preconceived thoughts on the issue.