On Valentines Day, February 14, 2018, a gunman opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, killing 17 people and injuring 17 others.
The horrific massacre shocked the nation and led several states, including Florida — a notoriously gun-friendly state — to enact “red flag” laws, which allows law enforcement to get a court order to remove firearms from those making threats or suffering severe mental breakdowns before they can do harm to themself or others.
Sixteen other states plus the District of Columbia have similar laws, 11 of which were enacted after the Feb. 14, 2018, shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Two years after Parkland shooting, Florida ‘red flag’ law removes hundreds of guns:
The law, supported by legislators of both parties , has been applied more than 3,500 times since, with the pace accelerating during the last half of 2019. Even so, an Associated Press analysis of the law showed its use is inconsistent, with some counties and cities using it rarely and others not at all.
Advocates of Florida’s red flag measure say before it existed, it was often difficult to remove firearms from those making threats or suffering severe mental breakdowns. Investigators did not act on reports that the Parkland shooter was threatening to carry out a school massacre. But even if they had, it is likely he would have been allowed to keep his guns because he had no felony convictions or involuntary, long-term mental commitments, they say.
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, who leads a commission that investigated the massacre’s causes, says the shooter would have easily qualified for a red flag order. Gualtieri says while it is impossible to say that would have prevented the shooting, the gunman wouldn’t have been able to legally buy weapons or ammunition, making his preparation difficult.
“We have needed this law for decades,” said Gualtieri, who started a unit in his department that handles only red flag cases.
In the wake of the El Paso, Texas shooting and Dayton, Ohio mass shootings of August 4 and 5, 2019, President Donald Trump called on states to implement “red flag” laws to help remove guns from “those judged to pose a grave risk to public safety.” After meeting with Wayne LaPierre of the NRA in November 2019, Trump abandoned the idea of putting forth red flag law proposals or other legislation to curtail gun violence.
Arizona’s Governor Doug Ducey has similarly exhibited cowardice in the face of gun lobby opposition to sensible gun safety laws.
Following the Parkland massacre, Governor Ducey in March 2018 released a plan aimed at preventing a similar mass killings in Arizona:
The centerpiece of Ducey’s highly-anticipated plan is a proposed law that would allow courts to impose restraining orders to keep guns away from people who threaten to harm themselves or others.
“The governor does not believe that people who are a threat should have weapons,” said Daniel Scarpinato, Ducey’s spokesman. “This is a tool that we think can be really effective and actually, in many respects, is more aggressive than what you’ve seen in other states.”
The governor’s proposal died at the hands of Republicans in the Arizona legislature.
Following the El Paso, Texas shooting and Dayton, Ohio mass shootings of August 4 and 5, 2019, Governor Ducey renewed his call for a Red-Flag law in Arizona:
In 2018, and again this year, Governor Doug Ducey is working to pass a red-flag law.
It was part of his school safety plan. The NRA supported it, but Republicans in the state legislature did not.
After the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, the Governor renewed his call for a law.
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Senator Martha McSally in an interview with ABC15’s Kaley O’Kelley that she thinks that’s a good idea.
“At the state level there are some initiatives, Governor Ducey has led an effort on what we call red-flag laws, and maybe stop these tragedies from happening,” Senator McSally said.
Tellingly enough, the governor’s “red flag” law (or STOP order) proposal was not among the legislative priorities he outlined in his State of the State address in January. Days later, gun rights activists jeered Gov. Doug Ducey’s support for “red flag law,” interrupting him at the Arizona Republican Party’s annual meeting. Hecklers Interrupt Ducey Speech Over ‘Red Flag Law’ Support.
Like the coward in the White House, the Arizona Mirror reports that our cowardly governor has flip-flopped into a quivering mass of jello in the face of gun lobby opposition. Ducey flip-flops on red flag laws, says they won’t happen on his watch:
Gov. Doug Ducey has reversed his position on so-called “red flag laws” that have been a core piece of his public safety agenda since 2018, telling a crowd in Lake Havasu City on Thursday that such laws won’t be enacted while he is governor.
“As long as I am governor, there will be no red flag law in the State of Arizona,” he said in a speech in deep-red Mohave County.
Ducey has been touring Arizona to bring his state of the state address to voters in different parts of the Grand Canyon State. His comments on red flag laws came at a speech at the London Bridge Resort in Lake Havasu City.
Video of Ducey’s comments were posted on Facebook by Hildy Angius, a Republican member of the Mohave County Board of Supervisors.
Patrick Ptak, a spokesman for Ducey, told Arizona Mirror after this story was initially published that it is “flat wrong” to say Ducey has reversed his stance.
“The governor hasn’t changed his position on anything,” he said.
Ptak said red flag laws and Ducey’s STOP orders, for Severe Threat Order of Protection, are not the same [pure semantics]. Although both would allow family and police to go to court to remove a person’s guns, Ptak said the governor believes his plan “is different than and far superior to” red flag laws because it includes more due process. He said those due process provisions, including requiring “clear and convincing evidence” and making it a felony to file a false petition to remove a person’s guns, led the National Rifle Association to endorseSTOP orders.
In his 2018 school safety plan, introduced in the wake of the devastating shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., Ducey called for the STOP orders.
The legislature killed the proposal that year, even after it was stripped of key provisions amid GOP criticism. And even though he renewed his push for STOP orders in his 2019 state of the state address, the efforts never materialized.
In a January interview, Ducey told Arizona Mirror that STOP orders would continue to be a component of his efforts to make schools safer and enhance public health.
Ducey’s reversal on red flag laws comes a few weeks after he was heckled at the Arizona Republican Party’s annual meeting by protesters chanting “No Red Flag.”
Today, a day after the second anniversary of the Parkland massacre, organizers of an annual rally in support of gun owners’ rights anticipate a larger crowd than usual in Phoenix because of several bills introduced at the Capitol. Gun-control bills at Arizona Legislature create backlash; turnout could grow at Second Amendment rally:
Saturday’s 2nd Amendment Rally will be free to attend and open to the public beginning at 10 a.m. at the Arizona Capitol.
The event’s website states 16 people are expected to speak at the rally, including Arizona House Rep. Kelly Townsend and Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb.
Gun-control bills aren’t expected to get far at the Arizona Legislature this session, but people across the state are reacting with anger and taking action.
Multiple Arizona cities and counties have passed or are considering resolutions deeming themselves “Second Amendment sanctuaries.”
In response to proposed gun-control legislation, a private Facebook group called “Arizona Anti SB1624/SB1625/SB1626 Activists,” was created Sunday by Gavin Paraiso.
[The] Facebook group for Arizonans against the bills [has grown] to more than 50,000 members by Thursday afternoon.
Reality Check: they represent a small but very vocal minority. Poll: Arizona Voters Support Tougher Gun Laws By 8:1 Margin (2/8/2020):
New polling data released by the research firm Global Strategy Group suggests that a majority of Arizona voters supported stronger gun laws in the state.
The poll, which was commissioned by Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg’s group Everytown For Gun Safety found that, statewide, 50% of voters supported stronger gun laws, while only 6% of voters felt gun laws should be less strong — an 8:1 margin.
In districts where Republicans outnumbered Democrats by at least 14 points, voters still supported stronger gun laws by a 6:1 margin.
The most consensus came on the issue of blocking domestic abusers from owning weapons, and requiring offenders to surrender their firearms to law enforcement.
Ninety percent of respondents said they supported policies requiring domestic abusers to turn over their firearms to law enforcement, while 89% strongly supported blocking domestic abusers from owning any guns.
“A majority of intimate partner homicides in Arizona are committed with a gun,” said Jessica Manos, a volunteer with Moms Demand Action, a group that seeks to reform gun laws. “What we’re focused on this year is a domestic violence bill, that will disarm domestic abusers when they’re subject to a final order of protection, and not only make it so they can’t purchase weapons, but also that they’d have to surrender the ones that they have.”
Currently, House Bill 2543 and Senate Bill 1165 are making their way through the Arizona State Legislature. Both bills would require courts to order domestic violence offenders to surrender their firearms to law enforcement or a federally licensed dealer within 24 hours of sentencing.
Universal Background Checks
The survey found that requiring background checks ranked higher than immigration, jobs, education, the environment and even abortion in the minds of Arizona voters.
57 percent of voters polled said they agreed with requiring background checks on all gun sales, and would never vote for a candidate with whom they disagreed on that position. Nearly three quarters of undecided voters and 58% of independent voters felt the same way.
Manos says universal background checks are designed to balance the rights of gun owners with the realities of gun violence.
“No law-abiding gun owner will lose their gun rights over this,” she said. “This should be something that we can agree on because it’s a good way to keep our community safe while still protecting the gun rights of law abiding citizens.”
More than two-thirds of voters polled said they would be less likely to support a candidate who opposes background checks on all gun sales, including those sold online and at gun shows.
Red Flag Laws
In 2018, Gov. Doug Ducey called for legislation to allow law enforcement to temporarily remove guns from people deemed a danger to themselves or others by a court. The effort failed in the state Legislature.
After the August 2019 shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio that left a combined 32 people dead, Ducey again called on the state Legislature to enact similar legislation, and again the effort failed.
But 79% of voters — and 90% of suburban women — in the poll said they support enacting so-called “red flag” laws. A small majority (57%) of voters and two-thirds of independents said they were less likely to vote for a candidate who opposes red flag laws.
Back to The Republic reporting:
Democrats are sponsoring legislation that would expand background checks on firearm purchases as well as ban high-capacity magazines and so-called assault weapons.
One bipartisan proposal would change state law to expressly ban people who have been convicted of domestic abuse from purchasing or possessing firearms in particular circumstances.
Even relatively modest gun-control proposals are unlikely to gain any traction in a Republican-controlled Legislature.
Meanwhile, GOP lawmakers have proposed bills that would make it potentially costly for governments to adopt measures such as setting up gun-free zones and would designate Arizona a “Second Amendment sanctuary state.”
The Second Amendment sanctuary state legislation in Arizona is the latest in a wave of similar bills that have popped up in cities and states across the country in the past year.
Sponsored by Rep. Leo Biasiucci, R-Lake Havasu City, the measure would make any federal laws viewed as infringing on the Second Amendment null, void and unenforceable in Arizona.
In other words, the lawless nullification of federal laws and sedition, if not insurrection, against the federal government. These guys are the descendants of the traitorous Confederate rebels who seceded from the U.S. over slavery.
A handful of Arizona communities have opted to pass resolutions declaring themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries.
Mohave County was the first in Arizona to officially declare itself a “Second Amendment Sanctuary County” in support of gun rights. The resolution, which passed in November, says in part the county Board of Supervisors won’t authorize county spending or other resources for “enforcing laws that unconstitutionally infringe on the people’s right to keep and bear arms.”
Bullhead City followed suit Jan. 21, passing a similar resolution to declare itself Arizona’s first Second Amendment sanctuary city.
“I’m not pleased with the way our country is going,” Mayor Tom Brady said during the meeting.
“One quote that I find particularly interesting is Thomas Jefferson was attributed as saying, ‘The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to bear arms is as a last resort to protect themselves against the tyranny of government.’ I believe that, and by passing this resolution, I don’t think you have to fear this local government because we’re on your side.”
Note: According to the Jefferson Monticello organization, “This quotation has not been found in any of the writings of Thomas Jefferson.” It is a spurious quotation that first appeared in print by Charley Reese, “Founding Fathers Gave Individuals the Right to Bear Arms,” Orlando Sentinel, June 22, 1989. See, Strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms (Spurious Quotation). In other words, Mayor Brady is spewing nonsense that he read somewhere on the Internet. This should have been noted in The Republic’s reporting.
“If anybody tries to infringe on the rights of the people in Arizona, they are in for big trouble, and we’re just starting,” Councilwoman Sheila Shutts added.
So are you threatening violence Shelia? Who do you plan to shoot, federal law enforcement officers?
Last week, La Paz and Apache counties approved similar resolutions.
Yavapai County declared itself a Second Amendment sanctuary on Feb. 5. While there wasn’t much discussion among the Board of Supervisors, more than a dozen county residents tuned in to the public comment portion of the meeting.
Most of them urged the county board to pass the resolution; a couple of people opposed it, and others questioned how much weight a resolution would carry to protect a resident’s right to bear arms.
“As we all know, a resolution carries no legal weight, and an ordinance is necessary to provide any protection whatsoever to the citizens of Yavapai County,” Chino Valley resident Mark Smith said to the board. “I’m not suggesting that this resolution not be passed, I am saying, this is not the end of the issue but the beginning.”
Prescott, in Yavapai County, has been considering a similar resolution. The Prescott City Council on Tuesday tabled an agenda item to adopt a resolution declaring itself a Second Amendment sanctuary city, according to Prescott City Clerk Sarah Siep.
The item has not yet been rescheduled, she said.
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The Second Amendment sanctuary bill does not appear to be heading anywhere soon. It has not gotten a single hearing.
But the Senate Judiciary Committee voted along party lines Thursday to advance a bill that would dissuade governments from creating so-called gun-free zones.
Senate Bill 1664, sponsored by Sen. David Gowan, R-Sierra Vista, would hold governments liable for setting up such zones.
People harmed by a crime in that gun-free zone could file suit against the government if they can argue that a firearm would have protected them from that crime.
Critics argue the bill would discourage governments from taking simple steps they contend would improve security.
“Allowing loaded guns in public places doesn’t make our communities any safer,” said Geneva Haber, a volunteer with the Arizona chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, which opposes the bill.
In reference to SB 1664, Arizonans for Gun Safety urged the bill’s opponents to voice their concerns. The organization said in a Facebook post on Wednesday that the bill “promotes false narrative that anyone with a gun will respond calmly and rationally in a threatening situation and succeed in killing or disarming only the ‘bad guy.’ “
“Liability for harm lies with the perpetrator, not with government entities trying to protect their employees and visitors,” the organization said.
A small minority of very vocal and potentially violent gun fetishists and gun worshippers in this state make it impossible to even debate reasonable gun safety laws in the legislature. Even Governor Ducey has cowered under pressure from these gun nuts.