PHOENIX (AP) - The Republican-controlled Arizona House on Feb. 24 approved two measures aimed at boosting the rights of gun owners over objections from Democrats who called them dangerous.
One measure would prohibit police and sheriffs from enforcing federal gun laws that violate the 2nd Amendment. Backers said it would ensure that the rights of gun owners are protected from what they say is the potential for overreach by President Joe Biden’s administration.
Democrats railed against the measure, HB2111, saying it will undermine the rule of law and is an unconstitutional measure that will cost taxpayers to defend in court.
"The 2nd Amendment is not in danger, the 2nd Amendment has never been in danger," said Rep. Daniel Hernandez, a Tucson Democrat. "And we keep putting up these things that are just scare tactics and more wedge issues to try and say ’we are harder on the 2nd Amendment than anybody else.’"
The other bill, HB2551, would require that people with concealed weapons permits be allowed to carry their guns in most public buildings and publicly owned spaces unless there is security screening. It’s a yearly effort by Republicans that has repeatedly failed and was once vetoed.
GOP Rep. John Kavanagh, who sponsored the bill, said a sticker on a door saying "no weapons allowed" only prevents law abiding people from being armed and does nothing to keep out criminals with weapons.
"The suggestion that we could keep our buildings safe with stickers is ridiculous," Kavanaugh said. "If that were true we could save billions of dollars by having every airport get rid of all their expensive equipment and personnel and just put up a bit sign: ‘no weapons or explosives.’ That’s absurd."
But Democratic Rep. Randall Friese, a Tucson trauma surgeon, said there are loopholes in concealed weapons laws that have allowed people who are barred from owning a gun to get one. He pointed to a 2018 case where a law enforcement officer was shot by a person with a revoked permit who still was able to buy a gun.
"His colleagues carried him into the emergency room where I was working that night, and put him down in front of me," Friese said. "And said "save his life.′ And I could not."
Democrats said it would be expensive for cities, counties or other government agencies that want to keep guns out of their facilities to buy security equipment and hire personnel to run it.
Both measures passed on 31-29 partyline votes.
The House also gave initial approval to a measure, HB2840, allowing people to have loaded guns in their cars on school grounds. Democrats said it could lead to adult students being tempted to pull a gun, while supporters said it just allows legally armed people to not have to unload their weapon just to pick up their children at school.
- Arizona legislative panel advances two gun bills
- Battle between gun rights and gun control continues in Arizona
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