Already the bellwether of radical policy, the Arizona legislature is now poised to outdo other GOP-led states in the competition for most extreme gun legislation. Yesterday, a House panel approved a bill to let anybody bring their guns into “public establishments” and “public events.”
While current law allows public agencies to declare buildings as gun-free zones by “putting a sticker on the door,” SB 1201 will allow public buildings to keep guns out “only if there are metal detectors at each entrance with a security guards.” Without those measures, which can cost over $100,000, anyone may bring in their own gun.
Under the bill, “public establishments” and “public events” include buildings owned or leased by the state (including courts and libraries) and events conducted with a license or permit from a public entity. While the law exempts events or facilities that serve alcohol — making them provide “gun lockers” if they want to ban guns — events without alcohol would likely have to allow firearms without restriction. Such public places would include “major events such as Arizona Cardinals and Phoenix Suns games or rock concerts.” Or, as one major concert promoter noted, “Sesame Street Live” and “Disney On Ice”:
[President of major concert promoter Live Nation Southwes Terry] Burke said it appeared the bill would allow guns at family shows that don’t serve alcohol, such as “Sesame Street Live” or “Disney on Ice.”
Bob Merlis, an agent for rock stars John Mellencamp and ZZ Top, “couldn’t imagine” an artist agreeing to perform in front of a gun-toting audience. “The fear of every performer onstage is that some nut will shoot them,” he said. The Arizona Chamber of Commerce also balked, saying the legislation “could infringe on the rights” of building owners “to keep guns out.”
Sports and entertainment executives said the bill could affect venues like Phoenix’s Chase Field, US Airways Center, Comerica Theatre, Ashley Furniture HomeStore Pavilion, Glendale’s University of Phoenix Stadium, and the Mesa Arts Center — all “facilities are owned, leased, operated or controlled with an element of public funding.” Incidentally, Comerica Theatre will be home to Sesame Street Live this spring.
Defending his bill, state Sen. Ron Gould (R), the bill’s sponsor, said “stickers don’t really protect anybody” because they “[do] not really keep a criminal or a psychotic from walking into this meeting and shooting each and every one of us dead.” But letting anyone and everyone walk into the room with a gun somehow does.