House bill OKs stun guns, pepper spray at universities

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Republican Rep. Travis Grantham of Gilbert (left), the bill's sponsor, said he was prompted by policies at some universities that he believes ban the active ingredient in the most effective chemical sprays. (Source: AP Photo and 123RF) Republican Rep. Travis Grantham of Gilbert (left), the bill's sponsor, said he was prompted by policies at some universities that he believes ban the active ingredient in the most effective chemical sprays. (Source: AP Photo and 123RF)
PHOENIX (AP) -

State university and community college students would be allowed to carry pepper spray, stun guns and other "non-lethal" weapons under a bill approved by the Arizona House late Thursday.

Republican Rep. Travis Grantham of Gilbert, the bill's sponsor, said he was prompted by policies at some universities that he believes ban the active ingredient in the most effective chemical sprays.

The Arizona Board of Regents, which oversees the state's three public universities, last week revised policies to clarify that students could carry all common chemical sprays and alarms. The Board of Regents and several community colleges oppose the legislation.

Grantham contends people should be able to choose any non-lethal device they want for self-defense.

"Maybe somebody's allergic to pepper spray and doesn't want to carry it," he said in an interview earlier this week, suggesting pepper spray could sicken some people if it accidentally goes off.

"There's new stuff coming on the market all the time," he said. "Why restrict it to just pepper spray, or just a stun gun?"

Democratic Rep. Ken Clark of Phoenix said Thursday that "the very smart people on our campuses have figured out what's good and bad."

He argued Grantham's legislation is so loose it would allow stun grenades or 40-mm projectiles normally used for crowd control.

"When the definition is poorly written, it includes things that could hurt people," Clark said.

The Republican-controlled Arizona Legislature has tried but failed in recent years to allow firearms on campuses, but Grantham said he's not going that far.

His proposal, passed on a 35-22 party-line vote, now moves to the Senate for consideration.

The legislation is House Bill 2172.


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