First, the good news …
On a 14-16 vote the Senate killed SB1243 which would have allowed those who have a permit to carry a concealed weapon to bring them in to public buildings. Building operators could maintain that gun-free status only by installing metal detectors and hiring security guards. Senate again kills bill allowing concealed weapons in public buildings:
Republicans Kate Brophy McGee of Phoenix, Frank Pratt of Casa Grande and Bob Worsley of Mesa joined with Democrats to provide the margin for defeat.
That alleviates the need for Gov. Doug Ducey, who has promoted himself as a supporter of the Second Amendment, to have to decide between the rights of gun owners and cost to governments — including the state — if they decide to install metal detectors and hire guards to keep their buildings free of weapons.
Now the bad news …
On the issue of background checks, Sen. Steve Farley, D-Tucson, questioned why lawmakers would want to put in this prohibition.
Federal law already requires such checks when a weapon is sold by a licensed dealer. But Sen. Steve Farley, D-Tucson, said that covers only about 60 percent of all gun sales.
“I think we would all agree in this room, regardless of what side you’re on, that we don’t want certain people to be able to buy guns, people who are mentally ill, people who have a criminal record,” he said. “They should not be allowed to buy guns.”
Anyway, Farley said, lawmakers should wait for the outcome of Tuesday’s hearing at the Arizona Supreme Court where the justices heard arguments over whether cities have a legal right to set their own gun laws despite state laws. He said if the court sides with Tucson in that fight, SB 1122 would be unenforceable.
But Sen. Gail Griffin, R-Hereford, the sponsor of SB1122, said it would be wrong to see her legislation prohibiting cities and counties from requiring background checks as simply aimed at firearms.
She pointed out the language of the bill is broad enough to also encompass any other transfer of private property. For example, Griffin said, a city would not be able to force someone selling a car to first check with any state or federal database.
Farley, however, said that proves his point that a blanket prohibition is a bad idea.
For example, he said, a city might be having a rash of car thefts.
“And they decide it might be good for the people in their community to require a check to see whether that vehicle was stolen,” Farley explained. “That seems like a reasonable thing a city might want to do.”
Tucson at one point had an ordinance requiring background checks for weapons sold at gun shows at the city’s convention center. Gun show organizers dealt with that by moving out of that facility to a county-run site, where there is no such requirement.
Separately Tuesday, lawmakers also voted to grant immunity from civil lawsuits to business owners for deaths and injuries caused by patrons with guns — but only if they do not post their establishments as “gun-free zones.”
Sen. Sonny Borrelli, R-Lake Havasu, promoted SB1159 by saying there is no reason that business owners who want patrons to be able to exercise their Second Amendment rights should be liable if someone else acts irresponsibly.
Farley, however, had a different scenario in mind.
He pointed out that existing law makes bar owners liable if they serve someone too much alcohol and that person goes out, gets into a vehicle and kills someone else. Farley said this would immunize that same bar owner who overserves someone who pulls out a pistol and starts shooting.
The measure passed anyway by a 16-14 vote, with Brophy McGee being the only Republican to side with Democrats.
Brophy McGee also bolted party lines when the Senate approved SB1344. This measure limits the ability of cities and counties from regulating the ability of employees and contractors to possess firearms, even if these people are on city property.
UPDATE: State senators voted Wednesday to allow two new exemptions to Arizona laws which generally prohibit people from firing guns in populated areas. Exemptions made to Arizona gun laws:
HB 2022 sponsored by Rep. Jay Lawrence, R-Scottsdale, was approved by the Senate Government Committee spells out that people can use a special kind of small-caliber shot, one designed to kill snakes and small mammals at close range. Sen. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, said it provides residents with an option for self-defense or at least a method of pest control.
But the more far-reaching measure the same committee approved on the same 4-3 party-line vote would remove the chance that someone could be prosecuted for being criminally negligent in shooting off a weapon in city limits. Instead, under HB 2287 prosecutors would have to prove that someone “intentionally, knowingly or recklessly” fired a gun.
Both would amend “Shannon’s Law” adopted in 2000 in the wake of the death of 14-year-old Shannon Smith.
The Phoenix teen died when she was hit by a bullet that had been fired in the air from some distance away. No one was ever arrested.
That law not only makes it a felony to fire off a gun within a mile of any occupied structure within city limits but also makes it illegal to act with criminal negligence. That is defined in Arizona law as acting in a way “that the failure to perceive (the risk) constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would observe in the situation.”
Rep. Tony Rivero, R-Peoria, who crafted the measure, said that wording allows someone to be prosecuted for “accidental” discharge of firearms.
The legislation brought out Edith Smith, who was Shannon’s aunt, in a bid to quash the proposal. She said since the law was adopted the amount of random gunfire has dropped.
“So why change something that works?” Smith said. “Shannon’s Law has made the Valley and other urban areas in Arizona safer.”
Dave Kopp, lobbyist for the Arizona Citizens Defense League, however, said even if the law is amended it will still protect people from celebratory gunfire. He said people act knowingly or recklessly when they fire a gun into the air.
Mendez, however, said changing the law would give people who fire off weapons a way of escaping criminal charges by saying the gunfire was “just an accident.”
This exception will basically gut Shannon’s Law so that some fucking idiot can shoot off his gun in an urban area without threat of prosecution because “I’m an idiot, it was an accident! I didn’t intend to hurt nobody.” Is HB 2287 really necessary or sound public policy?
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was just one legislative session in which not a single gun bill was introduced? Is it really necessary? Can’t we get a break from the annual gun nut day(s) at the Arizona legislature? Doesn’t our legislature have more pressing issues to work on, like funding education, health care, infrastructure and roads, etc?