Assembly Chief Sergeant-at-Arms Ronald Pane has given four legislators permission to carry concealed weapons in the state Capitol, according to two senior Senate staff members who have been informed of the decision.
State law prohibits carrying loaded firearms and deadly weapons in public buildings, except under limited conditions. A 2010 bill by Assemblywoman Cathleen Galgiani, D-Livingston, tightened the law, requiring that most holders of concealed weapons permits or other gun licenses get permission from the sergeants-at-arms of the state Assembly or the state Senate in order to bring their gun in the Capitol or legislative office buildings. Peace officers are exempt from the restrictions.
No such approval has been given in the Senate, where the Rules Committee has established a no-guns policy. Senate Chief Sergeant-at-Arms Tony Beard said while he respects the Assembly's judgment to establish its own security practices to best protect its members, it would take an "extraordinary situation" for him to give a member the OK to carry a concealed weapon in the building. He said his focus has been on how existing safety protocol and systems can be used to respond to threats and protect all members, staff and visitors.