AZ AG: Guns Are Allowed At Private Schools
From AZ Central — Arizona’s private elementary, middle and high schools can allow guns on campus, according to a new Arizona Attorney General’s Office opinion.
Sen. Steve Yarbrough, R-Chandler, requested the legal opinion several months ago. He got his answer late Friday. According to Attorney General Mark Brnovich, state and federal law do not prevent an individual with an Arizona concealed-carry weapons permit from carrying a concealed gun on private school grounds in Arizona. They also do not prevent schools from having guns secured on campus for use by trained employees who are not police officers as part of a school-approved program.
“I work with a lot of private schools and several of them had inquired as to what they could to do to make their campuses safer,” Yarbrough told The Arizona Republic. “They inquired about what kind of personnel they could have on campus, and what kind of circumstances they could store firearms on campus.”
Yarbrough did not say which schools had asked, or whether any would now allow guns on campus.
According to Brnovich’s written legal opinion, the Federal Gun Free School Zones Act (GFSZA) makes it a crime to knowingly possess a gun on the grounds of a public, parochial or private school but does not apply if the individual is licensed by the state. A state law in 2010 allowed individuals in Arizona to carry concealed weapons without needing a permit. But the state still offers the permits. Federal and state law, according to Brnovich, also provide an exception if the individual is carrying the gun as part of a school-approved program.
“If an Arizona private school were to initiate a program enrolling trained firearm handling persons in a program through which these persons would be allowed to carry concealed in the school zone, the GFSZA’s prohibition would not apply to those enrolled individuals,” Brnovich wrote. “The analysis is much the same under Arizona law.”
Brnovich also said nothing in federal or state law prohibits schools from securely storing guns on private school campuses.
“An Arizona private school could initiate a program in which they securely store firearms on campus and provide access to trained firearm handling employees,” he wrote.
The issue of guns in schools has been a hot topic for legislatures nationwide in recent years.
This year Gov. Doug Ducey signed House Bill 2338, which forbids any school governing board — K-12 through university — from banning someone from legally possessing a deadly weapon on a public right of way adjacent to campus. State lawmakers during debate of the bill said it was a response to concerns about limiting the gun rights of drivers on Central Avenue in Phoenix, who travel adjacent to the Arizona State University downtown campus.
Arizona lawmakers in 2013 unsuccessfully proposed legislation that would have allowed teachers and staff in K-12 district and charter schools to carry guns on campus.
Tennessee this year passed a law allowing private K-12 schools and private universities to implement their own handgun policies.
Yarbrough said Brnovich’s opinion now makes it clear that Arizona doesn’t need a similar law change to give schools the same authority.