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Arizona governor vetoes birther, campus gun bills

PHOENIX — Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed two controversial bills Monday that would have allowed guns on university campuses and required presidential candidates to provide additional proof about their citizenship status.

The surprise veto of the gun measure disappointed advocates of gun rights, who vowed to bring it back next year. The bill, as originally proposed, would have allowed guns everywhere on campus. In the face of strong criticism, it was amended to permit weapons only on "a public right-of-way" within campuses, which legislative supporters said they understood to mean sidewalks and roads.

But Brewer, a strong advocate of gun rights, who has supported loosening restrictions on guns in the past, said the language was unclear.

Cheering the governor's decision were university administrators, faculty members, police chiefs and students who were strongly opposed to the measure because they said it would have brought an element of danger into the academy.

''We come to school to learn and don't need any more distractions," said Kim Sell, a nutritional sciences major at the University of Arizona in Tucson, who was interviewed near a sign at the entrance to campus that declares, "Weapon free zone."


Constitutional questions prompted Brewer to veto the Birther bill that would have required presidential candidates to present their long-form birth certificates or other documents to prove their citizenship, a measure pressed by lawmakers who question President Barack Obama's birthplace.

''I never imagined being presented with a bill that could require candidates for President of the greatest and most powerful nation on earth to submit 'early baptismal or circumcision certificates' among other records to the Arizona Secretary of State," the governor wrote in her veto statement. "This is a bridge too far."

On the gun measure, state Sen. Ron Gould, a Republican from Lake Havasu City who carries a gun during legislative sessions, argued that students and professors were vulnerable to armed attackers and should not have their Second Amendment rights restricted on campus. Utah is the only state that requires universities to allow guns on their campuses.

Those carrying weapons on campus would have been required to undergo a concealed-weapon training course. But that requirement did little to assuage the concerns of critics.

Arizona leaves it up to the state's colleges and universities to set their own policies on firearms, and all institutions of higher education currently ban them.

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