In the old “wild west”, guns are about as common place to folks as the horses they ride in to town on. Perhaps that is a bad example considering it is the 21st century and cars appear to be the new mainstay of transportation (yes, even in Arizona); but then again, to some Democrat lawmakers, Arizona still has the tendency to be the old “wild west” in other ways: In October 2013, a man in Glendale, AZ shot and killed another man at a party who was threatening people with an assault rifle, thus stopping what gun enthusiasts call a “mass shooting” even before there was technically any “mass shooting”; In 2011, a 61-year-old lawyer in his car at a CVS parking lot in Scottsdale, AZ shot and killed a 50-year-old man with three daughters in an act of “self-defense” as opposed to driving the car away; And just a few short months ago, an ex-Marine outside of a Sears outlet at a mall in Glendale, AZ intervened in an attempted armed robbery of a power tool and fired four shots at the couple holding a toy gun, luckily, only hitting a parked car and injuring no one. With all of these stories, recently in the face of having their “freedoms under attack,” the Republican held Arizona legislature- whom recently is just getting over the stain left from the passing of SB-1062- felt the need to strengthen Second Amendment gun rights in the state and have passed two new bills this past week.
What are the two new bills?
This bill strengthens Arizona’s preemptive laws. The bill declares that the state of Arizona can impose fines on cities, towns and their lawmakers if they are enforcing gun ordinances stricter than the state’s own laws. Also, it allows the state the right to sue city councilmen of zed violating towns or cities and would not allow them to use public funds to defend themselves in court. The fine would be $5,000 on the city or town that violates the statute.
Supporters: this bill defends Second Amendment rights and that cities and towns have to answer to the state.
Opponents: this bill is unfair to impose such laws upon cities that choose to disagree with the state laws.
This bill, approved by a 34-22 vote, states that anyone who has a CCW permit and has gone through the necessary state-required training and background checks can ignore “no guns allowed” signs if that location does not provide a weapons locker upon entrance. Specifically, unless there are armed security guards, metal detectors, and/or gun lockers in place as security measures, the bill would allow guns in all government buildings. The law excludes public K-12 grade schools, community colleges, universities and any public event having a liquor license (such as sports arenas), but an existing law allows people with a permit to carry a gun into a bar. Essentially, if there are security measures in place, no guns allowed; and if there are not any security measures in place, guns are allowed in given that you provide a proper permit.
Supporters: this bill will help protect the public in the case of a mass shooting.
Opponents: this bill endangers large crowds, not protects them; also, this will cause financial hardship on a lot of venues (primarily libraries and pre-schools).
On the national level, Republican legislatures have always stuck to the mantra of protecting Americans from big government over-reach and of being fiscally-responsible. However, according to State Democrats, it would appear that Arizona Republicans attempting to strengthen gun rights have missed the mark on both accounts this time around. Republicans say that they have passed HB-2517 in response to attacks on Second Amendment rights and those cities and towns have to bow out to the state. Democrats say imposing HB-2517’s strict laws is unfair on local towns and cities, comparing the proposed over-reach of state in to local town and city matters to the often complained about federal government over-stepping its boundaries in state matters.
Rep. Debbie McCune (D-Phoenix) asked Republican lawmakers if they had done any cost-benefit analysis when it comes to these cities and towns that do not want guns in their public buildings and now have to buy lockers and hire armed security guards. In response to not looking at any cost-benefit analysis on the subject, Rep. Brenda Barton (R-Payson) claimed:
“I don’t understand the term cost-benefit analysis. These are Second Amendment rights, and I don’t know that we have cost benefit analysis on Second Amendment rights.”
However, it should not surprise Barton to hear the “fiscally responsible” or “cost-benefit analysis” allegations when it comes to defending constitutional rights. Ms. Barton could simply look to Florida’s Manitee county where the Republican held Board of County Commissioners voted 6-1 to cut the number of voting precincts down a third due to the very same “cost-benefit analysis”, impeding many heavily minority driven precincts’ 14th, 15th, 19th, 23rd, 24th, and 26th Amendments (the Right to Vote).
Whether or not Democrat lawmakers feel that Republican lawmakers in Arizona are indeed trying to re-establish themselves as the old “wild west,” the Republicans in the State House have always felt the need to reaffirm their “God-given rights to defend themselves.” This mantra, however, has prompted one Arizona Representative, Chad Campbell (D-Phoenix), to say this:
“Quite frankly this obsession with firearms is starting to get a little out of hand, in my eyes, and I don’t know what we can do.”
There is not much Democrats can do. With both houses of the Arizona legislature, as well as the Governorship, being held by the Republican Party, look for only more laws strengthening gun rights to be passed in the near future.
By Ryne Vyles