No, you may not carry a concealed weapon into Maricopa’s municipal court. Or the police station. Or a fire station.
But Tuesday the Maricopa City Council approved on a split vote an ordinance that will allow concealed-weapons permit-holders to carry their weapons in most public buildings.
Mayor Christian Price ended up being the deciding vote that went 4-2-1 in favor of the ordinance. Councilmembers Peggy Chapados and Henry Wade voted against it. Vice Mayor Marvin Brown abstained from the vote, saying it is likely upcoming state legislation will make any city decision moot anyway.
Senate Bill 1257 “prevents public entities from prohibiting individuals with Concealed Carry Weapons (CCW) permits from carrying firearms on their premises except when certain security measures are taken. The entity may ban firearms if it provides security personnel at its entrance along with a screening device.”
Though Price said there is a “false assumption” that people with a CCW permit have additional training (no longer required under state law), he said the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution “allows this to take place.”
“How do we legislate personal responsibility?” he asked. He said he agreed with Brown that state lawmakers will soon remove the power for municipalities to make those decisions for themselves.
Councilmember Vincent Manfredi gave impassioned speeches in favor of the ordinance. He said most CCW holders just want to protect themselves and their families. He said making them handle their guns in public by removing them and putting them in a safe is more dangerous.
Councilmember Nancy Smith wanted the wording of the ordinance to clarify that the weapon must be on the person and not just in a bag or a purse.
Because the municipal court shares a building with the county’s justice court, which bans its employees from carrying concealed weapons, the new ordinance also bans city employees from taking conceal weapons into the court building.
Councilmember Bridger Kimball added language to the ordinance that would also ban the public from bringing concealed weapons into the Maricopa Police Department’s buildings or the Maricopa Fire Department buildings.
Fire Chief Brady Leffler said his firefighters are not allowed to carry concealed weapons at any time. “I would be adamant that my guys do not carry,” he said.
Police Chief Steve Stahl reminded the council they initially based their discussions on a similar measure enacted by the Gilbert Town Council. He said after the vote Gilbert also decided to hire paid security for council meetings.
A previous Maricopa council meeting on the issue drew several residents to speak, all in favor. At Tuesday’s meeting, only two members of the audience addressed the council in person.
Gary Metivier spoke briefly in favor of the ordinance. “It’s the role of government to protect our rights,” he said.
Eric Phillips spoke at length against the decision. He cited a U.S. Supreme Court decision written by the late Justice Antonin Scalia, saying the Second Amendment is not unlimited. He decried the universal carry legislation adopted by the state as dangerous deregulation.
“I don’t think people are learning how to properly take care of their firearms,” said Phillips, whose mother was a police officer for 33 years.
Chapados said she could think of no reason anyone would need to bring a gun into a library, especially around children. “I think we’re trying to create problems that don’t exist,” she said.
Wade, a veteran and a gun owner, said he had wrestled with the issue and also listened to the concerns of employees at Copper Sky Recreational Complex.
“Why do we feel we have to have a loaded weapon to protect ourselves?” he asked.