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Arizona House Republicans Beat Back Measure Telling Them To Leave Their Guns At Home

State House Republicans beat back a proposal Tuesday that would have kept them from carrying guns onto the floor.

Rep. Randall Friese, D-Tucson, pointed out that Arizona law says it's a crime to bring a weapon into a public building if there is a no-guns sign at the door. And there is such as sign at the Arizona House.

"Your constituents do not have a right to bring a deadly weapon into this building," he said. "What we're asking ourselves today is shall we move ourselves above the law?"

The debate came after Democrats discovered that House Speaker David Gowan had quietly decided to let lawmakers bring their guns to work. A House spokeswoman insisted no law was being broken as Gowan had removed the no-guns sign from the back door some lawmakers use.

But Rep. Noel Campbell, R-Prescott, said all that is beside the point for one reason: he and his colleagues were elected.

"All of us members have been vetted. We've been vetted by the people. We've gone through many, many processes to just be in this House. And that's a maturity issue we all have," he said.

Rep. John Allen, R-Scottsdale, said he was raised in New York and has never owned or even fired a gun. But Allen said there are no metal detectors to keep the public from bringing guns into the House, signs notwithstanding. And he understands why some lawmakers want to be armed.

"We live in a circumstance where we are increasingly a target of people with bad intentions. And I think that as individuals if that's what you choose to do, you should be able to defend yourself," he said before restating his firm belief in the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

But Rep. Lisa Otondo, D-Yuma, said that's not the issue. "You know, I own a .20-gauge Beretta shotgun. And I like a nice Sunday morning with a cup of coffee out at the range. I love shooting Wobbles. And I believe in our rights to own weapons, OK? But that's not what this is about."

What it is about, she said, is both the law on guns in public buildings and the fact that some lawmakers feel threatened because others are armed.

Not a single Republican voted for the proposal. And not a single Democrat opposed it.