The Arizona Legislature is considering several bills expanding protections for the right of Arizonans to carry concealed weapons in public areas as well as limiting the state’s ability to regulate firearms transfers, reports the Associated Press (via KTAR News). “A bill [House Bill 2320] by Rep. Brenda Barton, R-Payson, would allow concealed-carry permit holders to take their weapons into public buildings such as public libraries while excluding bars, hospitals, high schools and universities. “We’re talking about specifically those who are licensed, who’ve had background checks and who’ve been fingerprinted. We know these are not the bad guys,” she said” . . .
Barton said her bill obligates public establishments to take care of residents or let them care of themselves. “Well if you’re going to take away somebody’s constitutional right to be self-protected, then you need to protect them,” Barton said.
Note that HB 2320 does not make it illegal for a private property owner to bar someone from carrying a firearm on their property. The bill specifically states (at page 3): “This paragraph does not limit, restrict or prohibit the existing rights of a private property owner, private tenant, private employer or private business entity.” All it does is remove the criminal penalty of “misconduct involving weapons” (which apparently entails a penalty of up to a $2,500.00 fine and six months in jail.)
HB 2320 passed on a 33-25 vote and is on its way to the Arizona Senate. Former Governor Jan Brewer, a Republican, vetoed similar legislation three times during her term in office; it’s unclear whether or not current Governor Doug Ducey will sign or veto this bill. When asked about it by reporters, the Arizona Republic reports that the governor simply said: “I’m not going to comment on bills that are moving through the Legislature.”
There were a few other bills related to firearms also getting attention in Phoenix, including:
* House Bill 2431, sponsored by Representatives Barton and Bob Thorpe (also a Republican), would require Arizona to enter into compacts with other states that commit to not enacting any law on firearms transfers that is more restrictive than Federal law. It would also bar any voter-approved initiative to change the law.
* House Bill 1330, which would ‘nullify’ “All federal acts, laws, orders, rules and regulations that are in violation of the second amendment to the United States Constitution, that are unauthorized by the Constitution and that violate the second amendment’s true meaning and intent as given by the founders and ratifiers of the United States Constitution….”
While I don’t have my ear to the ground on Arizona politics from my vantage point here in the Paris of Appalachia, it appears to me that HB 2320 is a worthwhile bill that Arizona pols would do well to enact. If a public building is so sensitive as to require disarming all citizens who cross its threshold, it’s only common sense to ask that all reasonable steps be taken to secure the building in the first place.
It’s a useful corrective to what is otherwise an all-too-typical game of security theater by state and local governments who insist on tacking a “NO GUNS ALLOWED” sign on a building, without providing any actual security.
The interstate compact idea in HB 2431 is an interesting idea. A compact between the several states is specifically barred per article I sec. 10 of the U.S. Constitution, without the consent of Congress, but once it has that consent, the compact makes the compact a law of the United States. Consent of Congress would come in the form of some sort of legislation which would then be subject to a presidential veto. (In fact, President Franklin Roosevelt vetoed Congressional approval of a compact between Colorado, Kansas, and Nebraska back in 1942.)
This bill sounds like it was influenced by a paper written by Mario Loyola and Ted Cruz in 2010, (before Cruz was elected to the U.S. Senate,) concerning ways to blunt the impact of Obamacare. Loyola and Cruz acknowledge that courts haven’t officially adjudicated the issue of whether or not the President’s signature is required for Congressional “consent” here, and either way, this would almost certainly involve some drawn-out litigation.
There’s also the matter of barring Arizonans from overturning the compact through popular referendum. It seems to be an unnecessary poke in the eye against popular sovereignty. (I’ve also seen some questions raised whether or not it is constitutional under Arizona’s constitution; since I have no expertise in Arizona constitutional law, I’ll let that go without comment.) Overall, an interesting long-term strategy, but no immediate tangible gain–and since politics is very much a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately sport, it makes me wonder if it’ll go anywhere just for that reason.
In contrast to the first two, I don’t see much point in HB 1330. The text of the bill uses the trigger word “nullify”, which has a long and sordid past in our country, but then doesn’t even define what it means by “true meaning and intent as given by the founders and ratifiers of the…Constitution.” Zounds, if you disagree with the feds on constitutional interpretation of the Second Amendment enough to get in their faces about it with a nullification act, at least have the courage to state what you think the Constitution actually says so it’s clear to everyone.
A bare statement about the founders’ “true meaning and intent” and $3.50 gets me a mocha frappuccino with whipped cream at my local Starbucks. Smells like pure political theater to me.
(H/T: Landis A.)
DISCLAIMER: The above is an opinion piece, and is not legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship in any sense. If you need legal advice on this subject, you are strongly urged to hire and consult your own counsel.