The Republican-controlled Arizona House of Representatives has voted to repeal the state's gun-free school zone laws, setting up a potential battle that only Gov. Jan Brewer (R) may be able to stop.
The House on Tuesday night passed a bill to end the prohibition of guns within 1,000 feet of schools. The measure would allow anyone licensed to carry a concealed weapon to have a gun within the buffer. The bill passed with only Republican support, with all the House Democrats and several Republicans dissenting. It still needs passage in the Republican-controlled Senate and Brewer's signature to become law.
Proponents said that the law would make it easier for parents who carry guns keep them in their car to drive children to school or attend meetings. The gun couldn't be brought into the school building.
"It makes a difference if I park next to a property or 1,000 feet away," said state Rep. Jack Harper (R-Maricopa County) in an interview with HuffPost.
Harper, who carries a gun, said that when he is visiting his child's school or attending a school function as a legislator, he has to leave his gun in his vehicle and park away from the building, which he said causes issues for him and other parents. He said the new bill would allow for them to park closer and to drop their children off in front of the building. Harper stressed that he would not be carrying a gun into the school.
Arizona law does allow for guns to be carried into school buildings by law enforcement and for legitimate purposes. The existing gun-free school zone law allows unloaded guns in the zone, along with guns secured in a lockbox.
State Rep. Carl Seel (R-Maricopa County), the bill's sponsor, did not return a call for comment.
The House vote came after a vote to allow guns in public buildings that lack security guards.
House Minority Leader Chad Campbell (D-Maricopa County) said Democrats raised concern that the repeal would be troublesome in areas of the state that have gang violence and allow for a gun-fueled gang war to erupt on the front lawns of schools. Harper said he understands the concern, but there is a need for gun owners who have children in the schools.
Harper said it would be up to Brewer to sort out the statewide debate.
Campbell, who said he objects to people carrying guns next to playgrounds, questioned the logic of the bill.
"I am a gun owner and I consider myself a pro-gun Democrat, but you have to draw the line," Campbell said. "If you can't draw the line in front of an elementary school, where is the line?"
Campbell said that he believes Brewer may be the only one who can stop the bill.
"The Senate is no less crazy than the House," Campbell said. "I believe the governor would veto this."
Harper echoed Campbell's thoughts on Brewer. Brewer's spokesman did not return a call for comment. Brewer has vetoed several gun law repeal bills in the past, including last year's proposal to allow guns on college campuses.
"She is a pretty strong conservative," Harper said. "But there are some issues she has shied away from."