PHOENIX -- Jan Brewer said Monday she's "not sure" whether the shootings in Connecticut mean Arizona needs to revisit the various laws expanding the right to carry weapons in public she has signed in her four years as governor.
The governor, in her first public comments about what occurred, called the incident "absolutely horrific."
"Everybody's heart is broken to the point where you can't hardly get over it when it's brought to your attention again or you're just thinking about it as you're driving along," Brewer said when asked about Arizona's gun laws.
She said that such incidents always lead to a discussion of the rights of individuals to bear arms.
"And I'm not sure it's something that needs to be addressed in that respect," she said, pointing out that the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers used box cutters.
"There are evil, evil people in our country, unfortunately, and in the world," Brewer continued. "And I don't know how we get our arms around it."
She said people with guns going crazy and killing people is a sad situation.
"I know everybody's looking for an answer," the governor said. "I don't know what that answer is."
The governor said if there is an area where people should focus in the wake of the shootings it should be on making schools safer.
"We've just had too many incidents of this kind," she said.
"I hope that people across the country come together and figure out what it is to make that environment safer," the governor said. "But I will just always believe that there are evil people and I don't know what the solution is, how you're ever going to stop it."
The governor said a better mental health system may be part of the answer, helping people with problems "address those issues before they get out of control." Still, she said, no amount of counseling can prevent every problem.
"I've been told at least that some incident can take them over the edge," Brewer said.
NO PERMITS NEEDED
Brewer has inked her name to a variety of measures expanding the rights of people to carry guns since becoming governor in 2009.
The most sweeping allows any adult to carry a concealed weapon. Prior to that, only individuals who had undergone a background check and some special training could hide a gun on themselves; anyone else who felt the need for protection had to have the weapon visible.
She also signed a measure to let those who do have a state-issued permit carry their guns into bars or restaurants where beer, wine or liquor is sold, though they are not permitted to drink. Establishment owners do retain the right, though, of posting "no weapons" signs at the door.
Brewer also agreed to let people bring their weapons into parking lots and garages of public colleges and universities as long as they leave them in their vehicles. And she signed a law allowing anyone who feels threatened to "display" a gun without being charged with intimidation.
WEAPONS SEND MESSAGES
The governor, however, also has shown there are some limits to how far she is willing to go.
Earlier this year, for example, she vetoed -- for a second time -- legislation that would have permitted individuals to bring weapons into most public buildings.
In her message to lawmakers, Brewer called herself "a strong proponent of the Second Amendment," saying she has "signed into law numerous pieces of legislation over these past few years to advance gun rights." But she said firearms are not appropriate everywhere, such as schools and government buildings.
"Decisions made by government officials at the state, county and municipal level impact all areas of life and can have a profound impact upon an individual's family and livelihood," wrote Brewer, who had been a Maricopa County supervisor. "Emotions can run high."
And last year she rejected a measure that would have allowed individuals to bring their weapons onto the campuses of public colleges and universities, though not into classrooms.
In that case, however, the governor said her objection was not to having guns on campus but to what she said was the flawed wording of the legislation. For example, she said there was no good definition of exactly where guns would -- and would not -- be allowed on campus, pointing out that nowhere in the legislation did it define exactly what is a "public right of way" where weapons could be carried.