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Arizona Lawmakers Introduce Firearms Bills to Further Loosen Restrictions

 

What kinds of firearms-related bills will Arizona lawmakers be working on in the aftermath of Saturday's mass shooting of 20 people?

Well, it's still early in the new legislative session. But so far, Republicans are continuing their mission to loosen firearms restrictions, not tighten them.

Here's a look at four of the laws proposed this week:

* HB 2001 -- Introduced by Representative Jack Harper, a Republican from Surprise, and several other GOP lawmakers, the bill aims to make it legal for faculty members of a community college to carry concealed weapons on campus.

* HB 2014 -- This one, introduced by Harper, would apparently make HB 2001 redundant. It allows nearly anyone to carry a concealed weapon onto the campus of a university, college or community college in Arizona.

* HB 2006 -- This one also from Harper, who on Monday blasted Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik for failing to provide security for Giffords. The bill proposes the repeal of ARS 17-305, an anti-poaching law that prohibits carrying firearms and/or "devices for taking game" in a game refuge.

* HB 2017 -- Introduced by Representative John Kavanagh, a Republican from Fountain Hills. The bill does nothing but make a grammatical change in a law Kavanagh sponsored (and saw passed) last year. The law prohibits property owners from banning guns from locked vehicles in parking lots, even if an owner has a sign posted that bans generally bans guns from the property.

Kavanagh, reached this morning, says he's certainly aware of the criticism heaped on the state in the days following Giffords' shooting. But politicizing the issue by attacking Arizona's gun laws don't make sense to him.

"I haven't seen anything our gun laws have done that have contributed to any gun violence," he says.

It's "too early to tell" what kind of laws, if any, may be needed in reaction to the mass shooting, Kavanagh says. More needs to be learned about the background of 22-year-old shooter, Jared Loughner, and what could have motivated him.

Possible angles that lawmakers or Congress could address are the confidentiality laws that prohibit doctors or educators from sharing information about concerns they may have with someone's mental health. In Loughner's case, he points out, it's already been reported that a community college teacher was worried about the young man's mental state.

It's also fair to discuss whether Army recruiters, who rejected Loughner, should share such concerns. But proposals to restrict the rights of people based on the non-professional judgments of teachers or recruiters may "get civil libertarians' hackles up," Kavanagh says. "You're walking down a minefield, in terms of personal privacy."

In any case, he wouldn't be working on such a bill because it's not his area of expertise, he adds.

Senator Krysten Sinema, a Democrat from Phoenix, has introduced what appears to be the one piece of gun control legislation so far this session. She wants to make it state crime to be a "straw buyer" of firearms for prohibited possessors, particularly members of foreign drug cartels.

Nationally, at least three members of Congress have called for gun control laws in reaction to Saturday's shooting.

 


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