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The bills would allow licensed gun owners to carry a concealed weapon in state government buildings and would permit loaded firearms in a vehicle that is transporting kids to or from school.

Amid nationwide discussions surrounding gun control following a mass shooting at a Texas elementary school, two bills that would do the opposite are being considered in the Arizona Legislature.

Republican-led HB 2414 and HB 2316 would loosen carrying restrictions in a state statute that outlines what is considered misconduct with a deadly weapon. The statute prohibits unauthorized possession of a gun in most public places, but the bills would open up the places where guns can be carried, including in school zones.

The two bills passed the House in February but have yet to come to a vote before the entire Senate.

Not-So-Gun-Free School Zones

HB2414, introduced by Rep. Jacqueline Parker, R-Apache Junction, eliminates the requirement that a gun be unloaded when it is inside a vehicle that is dropping off or picking up kids at school. If passed, this would allow gun owners with a concealed carry license to have a loaded, unsecured firearm in their vehicle on school property.

Carrying a loaded gun in a vehicle within a school zone is currently a class 1 misdemeanor in Arizona, which has a penalty of up to six months in jail and $2,500 in fines. 

Additionally, the federal Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990 specifies that a firearm may only be allowed in a vehicle inside a school zone if it is unloaded and in a locked container. Violating this law comes with a prison sentence of up to five years and up to $5,000 in fines.

Come and Take It

HB2316, introduced by Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, would allow licensed gun owners to defy a request by the manager of certain public facilities and events to hand over their concealed firearm until they leave the premises.

The law specifies that this does not apply to public schools and colleges, state medical facilities, courts, police departments, prisons, publicly-owned vehicles or crafts, locations that have a weapons screening process, or places where carrying is federally prohibited.

However, this means that concealed guns can be brought to locations like public libraries, state government offices like the Motor Vehicle Division, community centers, state museums, street festivals, and public pools.

Carrying a deadly weapon in these places after being asked to securely store it with a manager is also currently a class 1 misdemeanor.

This is the third time a bill like this has been introduced and the second time that Kavanagh has sponsored it. Then-Governor Jan Brewer vetoed the bill in 2014, and it died in the Senate after failing a vote in 2017.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated where HB 2414 and HB2316 currently stand in the legislative process.

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