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AZ’s Bring Your Handgun to Work Day Came Just After Giffords Shooting

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By HVpolitics on July 12, 2011

We know Arizona is a li’l bit crazy. Crazy for guns, that is.

So much so that freshman state legislator, Lori Klein, has been thrust into the middle of the gun debate after she brought her raspberry-pink .380 Ruger handgun into the legislative chamber two days after the mass shooting outside Tucson back in January.

Klein hadn’t intended to bring the handgun in with her, but it was in her purse as a matter of routine. She began carrying a handgun back in 2000 after someone attempted to break into her house.

“It’s like an insurance policy,” she said of her handguns, according to the Arizona Republic. “Shame on me if something were to ever happen and I couldn’t defend myself or my children.”

The decision to carry a handgun is a personal one, she insisted, and someone who isn’t comfortable or trained to do so should not carry one. “I don’t like chocolate ice cream,” she said by way of analogy. “Am I going to force you not to have any?”

Still, Klein’s actions are forcing a “a state of hunters and competitive shooters, Old West aficionados and those who want the latest technology in weapons” to grapple with the issue of whether or not it’s okay for people to carry firearms into safe and secure buildings, and more broadly, onto the relatively safe metro streets of Phoenix.

They’ve even forced Sen. Steve Gallardo to call for an ethics inquiry and said lawmakers should be prohibited from carry guns with them.

Joe Kubacki, the sergeant at arms for the Senate, said Klein’s scenario of an attacker making it into her office was far-fetched.

“In the world of ‘anything’s possible,’ I suppose it could happen,” he said. “But I think it’s highly unlikely.”

There are electronically locked doors and security on each floor. Capitol police and Arizona Department of Public Safety officers have a response time of about 30 seconds, Kubacki said.

In his 16 years of working security in the Senate, he said there has not been a single incident where someone created enough of a danger that the person had to be forcibly removed from a lawmaker’s office.

And, Sen. Robert Meza, who himself is a hunter, said this:

“Me, personally, I don’t live in fear,” Meza said.

Meza grew up in Phoenix and would take trips up north with his family to hunt deer and elk.

But he doesn’t see a need for weapons in an urban area. “I personally don’t believe people should be able to carry guns on the street,” he said.

It’s unlikely that any legislation will change the direction of gun laws in Arizona, but is it wrong to think it’s crazy that a legislator was allowed to bring her gun onto the legislative floor just days after Gabby Giffords was shot? Perhaps, the counter-argument would be that just days after the shooting is the right time to carry a firearm, or that if someone in Giffords’ entourage had been licensed to carry a concealed handgun the tragedy might have been avoided.

Still, because this story is kind of nuts, in an Arizona-type of way, here’s the best bit from the entire thing:

“Oh, it’s so cute,” Klein said, as she unzipped the loaded Ruger from its carrying case to show a reporter and photographer. She was sitting on a leather couch in a lounge, just outside the Senate chamber.

She showed off the laser sighting by pointing the red beam at the reporter’s chest. The gun has no safety, she said, but there was no need to worry.

“I just didn’t have my hand on the trigger,” she said.

Of course, the other-side to that story is that the reporter in question simply walked in front of the gun’s sight line, if Klein is to be believed, the Washington Post reported.

We may not have taken a gun safety class here at the HyperVocal offices, but we’re pretty sure that a loaded gun without a safety that’s being pointed at people through the use of a laser sighting isn’t exactly the safest way to flaunt your use of a firearm. We’re pretty sure the first rule of firearm safety is only point your firearm at a person if you intend to pull the trigger.

At least the Arizona state legislators know who to turn to in case they need protection in the state house.

(Photo courtesy Mark Henle/The Arizona Republic)

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