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Arizona governor vetoes bill allowing guns in state buildings

By David Schwartz

PHOENIX (Reuters) - Arizona Governor Jan Brewer on Tuesday vetoed a controversial bill that would have allowed people to tote guns into state government buildings that previously had been off-limits.

For the second consecutive year, Brewer rejected the measure backed by gun rights advocates to allow guns in public buildings, except where security personnel were posted at the entrances and metal detectors or X-ray machines were present.

Under current Arizona law, state authorities can ban guns from being carried into public buildings such as libraries, senior centers and city halls by posting a sign at their entrances.

The Republican governor said a "more thorough and collaborative discussion" is needed before such legislation could be signed into law.

"The decision to permit or prohibit guns in these extremely sensitive locations ... should be cooperatively reached and supported by a large coalition of stakeholders," said Brewer, in her veto message.

Arizona would have become the 10th state in the nation to pass such legislation, according to several news reports.

Charles Heller, co-founder and spokesman of Arizona Citizens Defense League, said the group "expected better from someone who was rumored to be an ally of freedom."

"We wish she would show more respect for Arizona's constitutional provision about the right to keep and bear arms," he told Reuters, moments after learning of the veto.

But opponents of the bill called the veto a "common sense approach" to the often explosive issues surrounding guns in public places.

"We need multiple conversations with all the parties," said Dale Wiebusch, legislative associate for the League of Arizona Cities and Towns. "We need to be able to sit down and hash things out. That's the only way we are going to come up with answers," he added.

In her veto message, Brewer also said she was concerned that governments would be forced to bear the financial costs of providing for security measures to restrict guns being brought into public buildings.

Maricopa County, the state's largest, estimated that it alone would have to spend $11.3 million for equipment and $19.5 million annually.

(Editing by Tim Gaynor; Editing by Eric Walsh)

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