Pima Supervisor Rex Scott Blasts the AZ GOP Legislative Majority on Gun Violence

By Rex Scott (posted and titled by Editor Micheal Bryan)

Pima Supervisor Rex Scott

During the last meeting of the Board of Supervisors, a local resident who survived the 2017 mass shooting at a Las Vegas festival addressed us. Sixty people died there, and 413 others suffered wounds, including the constituent we heard from. Her description of the incident was chilling and graphic. She was incredulous that the US Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional a federal regulation banning “bump stocks.” The shooter in Las Vegas attached one of those devices to his gun to allow it to fire more rounds at a more rapid clip.

The decision by the Supreme Court majority was another sad example of the undermining of a common sense gun reform measure. Arizonans know that feeling very well. Our state has done precious little to address the shocking toll gun violence has exacted on its citizens.

The Arizona Legislature has made it almost impossible for local governments to do much to combat gun violence or promote gun safety. Years ago, at the behest of the National Rifle Association, they passed a “pre-emption statute” (ARS 13-3108), which is identical to other state laws around our country. It prohibits local governments in Arizona from having laws or regulations dealing with guns that are more stringent than state laws. Counties are the public health authorities for their regions and ought to be able to enact laws and regulations that address gun safety and gun violence, which are certainly public health and safety concerns.

The Board of Supervisors passed a resolution calling on our legislators to repeal the statute. One of our local legislators, Representative Nancy Gutierrez, introduced a bill to do just that, but legislative leaders would not allow it a hearing before any committee. The resolution we passed stated that we reserve the right to sue the state over the constitutionality of the statute. That remains a possible option, and the Board is working with the Pima County Attorney’s Office to explore that possibility.

In the interim, we passed an ordinance requiring any person who has a gun lost or stolen report that loss or theft to law enforcement within a certain timeframe. On many occasions, guns supposedly lost or stolen end up sold to people prohibited under state law from having a gun through a “straw purchase.” Prohibited possessors in Arizona include convicted felons, those on probation for a domestic violence offense and undocumented immigrants. Our ordinance would assist law enforcement in their attempts to prevent straw purchases, which are illegal under state law.

Gun owners who actually suffer the loss or theft of a weapon have nothing to fear from this ordinance. The intent is to go after those who violate state law to try to get guns into the hands of prohibited possessors, who commit many crimes within our county. Nevertheless, several of our legislators, including Senator Justine Wadsack, who represents much of Pima County, have called for the repeal of the ordinance, claiming that it violates state law and undermines Second Amendment rights. The Goldwater Institute is also pursuing a lawsuit against the ordinance.

The public we represent demands that we take on these issues with pragmatism and concern for the growing number of people killed or wounded by guns. This need not be a partisan arena. The bump stock ban overruled by the Supreme Court came about during the Trump Administration. The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, enacted by Congress in 2022, extended background check provisions and provided states with funding and guidance to put in place “red flag” laws, which help to keep guns away from people who are a threat to themselves, or others.

Arizona is emblematic of states where the interests of the gun lobby supersede the concerns and fears of our citizens. Pima County will continue to insist on our responsibility and our right to address gun safety and gun violence. As we move further into this election season, I urge voters who want these vital issues addressed to examine closely the positions and records of candidates for public office. We can no longer invest public trust in politicians who do the bidding of the gun lobby and shamefully ignore the dire and pressing need to reduce gun violence in our country.

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