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Bill that would hold gun-free zones legally liable fails in Senate 

By: - March 5, 2020 4:29 pm
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Arizona state Sen. David Gowan, R-Sierra Vista, argues that it’s a ‘public safety issue’ when legally-armed citizens are disarmed. His bill to hold government entities liable if people get shot in gun-free zones failed to pass the state Senate. | Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury

State law bars people from carrying guns in most government buildings, but a bill that would have allowed people to sue the government for damages if a shooting occurred in a “gun-free zone” failed to pass in the Arizona Senate Thursday.

Senate Bill 1664, sponsored by Sen. David Gowan, R-Sierra Vista, imposes civil liability on government entities for people harmed by “criminal conduct” that occur in gun-free zones.

It would define a gun-free zone as any “building, place, area or curtilage that is open to the public” where a person’s right or “ability to possess a firearm is infringed, restricted or diminished in any way by a rule, regulation, policy, code, ordinance, utterance or posted sign.”

The bill was amended to exclude areas where guns are prohibited from federal law or a correctional facility.

“This bill here is a public safety issue,” Gowan said on the Senate floor Thursday, urging his colleagues to vote yes.

The bill failed on a 13-to-16 vote with a few of Gowan’s Republican colleagues splitting off to vote against the measure.

Hundreds have signed into the legislature’s request to speak system in support of and against the measure. It also was condemned by Patricia Maisch, a survivor of the 2011 Tucson shooting that injured then-U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 19 others in a Safeway parking lot.

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Jerod MacDonald-Evoy
Jerod MacDonald-Evoy

Reporter Jerod MacDonald-Evoy joins the Arizona Mirror from the Arizona Republic, where he spent 4 years covering everything from dark money in politics to Catholic priest sexual abuse scandals. Jerod has also won awards for his documentary films which have covered issues such as religious tolerance and surveillance technology used by police. He brings strong watchdog sensibilities and creative storytelling skills to the Arizona Mirror.