by David Safier
Ethan Orr (R, LD-9) is my representative, so I emailed him criticizing his Yes vote on HB 2455 which forbids a city — like, say, Tucson — from destroying guns. As today's Republicans go, Orr is a reasonably reasonable guy who I've had reasonable conversations with, so it's not a wasted effort to email him. The problem is, after he hits on some lovely sounding general principles we agree on and gets down to specifics, he and I usually part company.
Orr sent me an email reply which you can read in full below the fold. The first paragraph is all about what a sensible guy he is, cosponsoring a bill with his Democratic LD-9 Rep Victoria Steele to put more money into mental health training — a good bill that never made it to a vote. He's for expanding funding for school resource officers, meaning basically, more armed guards in schools, and — I'm not sure exactly what this means — "I'm currently working to change the allocation formulas to favor schools in the Tucson area."
We get to guns in the second paragraph. He says buyback programs are marginally effective at best, though I have no idea what that has to do with allowing a city to destroy guns it purchases in a buyback program. He then says he thinks nonprofits should organize buyback programs, though if they're ineffective, why bother, and if it's OK for them to destroy guns, why shouldn't the city have that option as well? He also writes, if the city buys back guns, it makes sense to sell them to a legitimate dealer to generate money for the police. Well, that's a fine idea if that's what the city wants to do, but that doesn't explain the need for a bill mandating the city resell the guns. This is classic Orr, semi-logical doublespeak that sounds like it puts us on the same side but means almost nothing.
The last paragraph begins with his heartfelt sentiment for the January 8 gun victims.
This was a hard vote for me. Like many in our community I was deeply affected by the shootings in January and I personally sat down with victims of the shooting to discuss this vote. I felt that I owed it to them and to you to explain my vote.
Nowhere in the email does Orr give his rationale for voting to make it illegal for a city to buy back guns from willing owners, then destroy them.
Here's Ethan Orr's email in full:
Thank you for taking the time to contact me about an issue that is so important to our community. I want to make our city a safer place, which is why I support evidence-based crime prevention programs and policies that make a substantial difference to the safety of our community. This year, I worked with Democrats to sponsor a mental health first aid program designed to help people with mental illness get the help that they need and deserve. I am also proud to have championed Jenna's Law, which makes it a felony to fire a firearm while intoxicated. I worked with the Governor to expand funding for school resource officers and I'm currently working to change the allocation formulas to favor schools in the Tucson area.
You have my assurance that I will always base my votes not on what is popular, but on what I believe is effective policy. In 2012, ASU conducted an analysis of 29 studies from 1983 to 2005 focusing on gun intervention, buyback and law enforcement campaigns. They found gun buyback programs to be, at best, marginally effective. While this bill was being discussed, I proposed more effective solutions such as conducting the buyback program through nonprofit organization or selling the firearms to a legitimate dealer in order to create an income stream for our police, as is done in other cities throughout Arizona.
This was a hard vote for me. Like many in our community I was deeply affected by the shootings in January and I personally sat down with victims of the shooting to discuss this vote. I felt that I owed it to them and to you to explain my vote. My commitment to you is that I will never make a policy decision without considering the facts and evidence on both sides. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to represent our community. Again, thank you for taking the time to contact me.
Arizona House of Representatives
District 9, Tucson