Two Arizona counties are responding in different ways to the rash of shootings that have drawn calls for further restrictions on firearms in some quarters — but neither are likely to please the gun control lobby.
In Maricopa County around Phoenix, Sheriff Joe Arpaio is set to deploy his armed volunteer posse to shore up schools in the wake of the massacre in Newtown, Conn., where a lone gunman killed 26 people.
Meanwhile in the northwest courner of The Copper State, officers in Mohave County are considering removing metal detectors from county buildings, allowing anyone to walk in packing heat.
The Mohave County Board of Supervisors agreed on Friday to study the liability issues surrounding any decision to remove the metal detector and gun lockers, the Daily Miner reports.
"I think the staff and the citizens have a right to provide for their own protection," Steven Moss, one county supervisor, said during the meeting.
Mohave County installed the security measures at its main government building in March 2010 after residents expressed fears about people carrying guns while protesting on various local issues, the Miner reports.
The measures have since subjected people to security and forced them to store their weapons elsewhere before entering the building.
Removing the metal detector has been a hot topic among Mohave County officials since early last year.
"The response that came from this board was due to people openly carrying weapons into our board rooms and into our facilities and acting in a manner (that frightened) other people in our buildings," Mohave County Board Chairman Buster Johnson said at a supervisors’ meeting in February.
Without a metal detector in the government building, citizens and employees could carry guns — though Mohave County employees might face some restrictions, Supervisor Moss said.
The board’s decision was greeted by residents who attended the Friday meeting.
"I'm in favor of removing the security from the administration building," one resident, Frederick Williams, told the Miner. "I see no reason for all this security when you have the sheriff's office 100 yards away."
"An armed society is a polite society," another resident, Roy Hagemyer, said. "No one's going to come in here shooting up the place if they know there might be 40 other people with guns."
In Maricopa County, as many as 400 of Arpaio’s armed, uniformed posse members will be stationed every day starting on Monday outside most of 50 schools under under his jurisdiction, according to local news website AZFamily.com.
“I have the authority to mobilize private citizens and fight crime in this county,” Arpaio told AZFamily.com on Friday.
The posse, totaling about 3,000, will be present throughout the school day. The volunteers have worked shopping malls during the holiday season since 1993 — making a record 31 arrests during the 2012 shopping season, AZFamily.com reports.
Posse members receive special training — and about 500 are qualified to carry firearms, Arpaio said.
The sheriff declined to discuss specific logistics, the news website reports, but Arpaio noted last month that posse members would be stationed “in the outlying — the perimeters of the school — to detect any criminal activity.”
In the Dec. 14 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., 20-year-old Adam Lanza killed his mother at home before heading to the school and massacring 26 people, including 20 children. The youngsters cowered in corners and closets and trembled helplessly to the sound of shots reverberating through the building.
Authorities said Lanza carried out the attack with two handguns and then committed suicide at the school — bringing the death toll to 28.
The rampage was the nation's second-deadliest school shooting, exceeded only by the Virginia Tech massacre that left 33 people dead in 2007.
Lanza apparently had used guns that his mother bought legally and were registered to her, police said.
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