Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey demonstrated his support for firearms protections

PHOENIX — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey demonstrated his support for firearms protections on Tuesday, signing two pieces of legislation and vetoing a third further-reaching measure.

The state’s Second Amendment protections are already among the strongest in the nation — a reputation Ducey said he wants to protect.

Arizona residents 21 and over are already allowed to carry concealed weapons without a permit. One bill signed by Ducey safeguards their rights to carry those weapons on or near school grounds as long as it’s on a public street, sidewalk or alley maintained by a municipality.

Ducey also signed a proposal that adds penalties for cities, towns and counties that pass firearms legislation stricter than state law.

That bill will allow courts to assess up to $50,000 in penalties against cities or towns that knowingly enact stricter measures. It also allows courts to award up to $100,000 in damages and legal fees to anyone who wins a lawsuit against a city or town that violates the law.

The law is largely aimed at gun regulations passed in Tucson that former Attorney General Tom Horne said in 2013 are beyond the city’s authority.

The National Rifle Association called Ducey’s actions a victory for Arizona gun owners in a press release Tuesday.

“Enhancing the state’s pre-emption laws guarantees that every Arizonan will be held to the same standards whether they live in Tempe or Tucson,” said NRA Spokesman Lars Dalseide said in the release.

Opponents say the bills Ducey signed erode the powers of cities and towns and endanger students.

“When was the last time you saw a school surrounded by a concrete wall? If you can come to a chain link fence with a gun and no one can do anything about it, that is a clear and present danger,” said Sen. Steve Farley, D-Tucson.

Ducey vetoed a bill that would have established Arizona as the first in an interstate compact that would have nullified any current or future law that impedes Second Amendment rights. Mandatory background checks were included on that list. Ducey called the proposal unnecessary and said the bill would have given up Arizona’s sovereignty to other states.

“I trust the citizens of Arizona and their elected leaders to continue to make wise decisions to protect our Second Amendment rights,” he said.

Another firearms bill still awaiting action from the governor would allow retired police officers to carry guns into bars.