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Arizona, U.S. lawmakers introduce gun-related bill

Gun legislation
State lawmakers have proposed about a dozen gun-related bills so far this session. Here are some of them:

Public buildings: House Bill 2288, sponsored by Rep. Steve Smith, R-Maricopa, would allow guns in all public buildings unless the building is secured by either a law-enforcement officer or an armed security guard and metal detectors.

Prohibited enforcement: Senate Bill 1112 and HB 2291, sponsored by Sen. Kelli Ward, R-Lake Havasu City, and Smith, would ban all federal, state or local government employees and federally licensed gun dealers from enforcing any federal law or regulation relating to firearms or ammunition in Arizona.

Prohibited possessors: HB 2377, sponsored by Rep. Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix, prohibits anyone who has been voluntarily hospitalized for mental-health evaluation or treatment from possessing a firearm. His HB 2379 bans people with court-issued orders of protection against them from possessing a firearm.

Concealed carry: HB 2380, sponsored by Campbell, reinstates the requirement that individuals need a permit to carry a concealed weapon, and would require firearms training to get such a permit.

Background check: HB 2381, sponsored by Campbell, requires person-to-person gun sales to go through a licensed firearms dealer so a background check is conducted on both parties.

College campuses: SB 1049, sponsored by Sen. Ed Ableser, D-Tempe, bans firearms on college campuses.

Ammunition clips: SB 1050, sponsored by Ableser, bans high-capacity ammunition magazine clips.

By Alia Beard RauThe Republic | azcentral.comThu Jan 24, 2013 11:43 PM

The debate over gun control that is consuming Washington has begun in the Arizona Legislature, where the battle is so far shaping up along party lines.

State lawmakers have introduced more than a dozen bills related to gun laws in the first two weeks of the session, with more expected. They run the gamut from proposing the state ignore all federal gun regulations, to toughening restrictions on who can possess guns and where they can carry them.

While the Legislature has pushed through some of the most relaxed gun restrictions in the nation in recent years, it has been unclear how this new group of lawmakers would handle the highly charged issue, particularly with the emotional impact of the December mass shooting at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school.

But on Thursday, an Arizona House committee considered the session’s first gun bill, and with a nearly party-line vote confirmed the partisan divide over guns is likely to hold sway at the Legislature this session.

The first proposal to pass through committee, House Bill 2326, forbids state and local government agencies and federally licensed gun dealers from maintaining a database of people who possess, purchase, sell or transfer a firearm.

The bill is an apparent attempt to head off federal oversight of gun owners.

Some gun-rights advocates, including the National Rifle Association, have voiced concerns that President Barack Obama is pushing for some sort of national federal registry for guns in response to the Newtown shootings. Current federal law forbids that, but does allow state and local governments to keep databases of gun owners.

A few states and cities do maintain such databases. Arizona does not.

Obama, in his package of gun-related executive orders issued this month, proposed clearing up legal confusion that may prevent states from submitting mental-health information to the federal background-check system, requiring background checks on private gun sales, improving incentives for states to share information with the system and clarifying that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors from asking patients about guns in their homes.

Rep. Eddie Farnsworth, R-Gilbert, a proponent of states’ rights and limited federal oversight, sponsored HB 2326 and chairs the House Judiciary Committee, which heard the bill Thursday. It passed committee 6-2, with five Republicans and one Democrat supporting it and two Democrats opposing it. It now needs a vote of the full House before moving to the Senate.

Farnsworth said if Obama is going to allow doctors to ask patients about gun ownership, he wants to make sure they can’t collect that information in a database and hand it over to the government. He also doesn’t want licensed gun dealers to produce such a database.

“This is not a political act intended to take a shot at the president,” he said. “I have grave concerns. Simply to maintain a database on somebody who is legally owning a gun, I have an issue with that.”

While this bill is moving quickly forward, bills to limit gun access are so far stalled. Republican leadership has either not yet assigned those bills to any committee or has double-assigned them, typically a tactic used to kill a bill. A pair of bills on the other end of the spectrum proposing to ignore all federal laws governing guns are also so far languishing.

House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix, called the Republican push of HB 2326 “the first shot across the bow.” Several of the gun bills assigned to multiple committees are his.

He said that as a gun owner, he wouldn’t support a registry either, but said the bill is an unnecessary and symbolic gesture.

“What we really need is a real discussion about how to secure our schools and communities,” he said. “And that’s not taking place. They are ignoring the real issues. This is such a partisan place down here.”

Senate Majority Whip Adam Driggs, R-Phoenix, said Senate Republican leadership is not ignoring the issue. He criticized Campbell for making the issue just as political as some Republicans have.

“We’re not going to pass something just to pass something if it’s not a solution to the problem,” Driggs said.

Arizona Citizens Defense League, an advocacy group that supports gun rights, is behind HB 2326. Spokesman Charles Heller said the bill is a pushback against Obama and his firearms efforts, but also part of a continuing effort to limit government interference.

“The government should not know what firearms people have,” said league spokesman Charles Heller. “It’s none of their business.”

He said it’s still too early to tell whether the House pushing this bill more quickly than other bills sets a tone for the session.

“But I believe the Legislature will come to reason and realize that ‘gun control’ is not the answer to anything,” he said.

Rep. Lupe Chavira Contreras, D-Avondale, was the lone Democrat on the committee to support the bill.

“I am a hunter myself,” he said.

“I personally don’t believe that it’s anyone’s business if I have guns or how many guns I have. That’s my personal right.”
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