Republicans defeat Democrats’ gun safety amendments

Ben Giles//April 1, 2013

Republicans defeat Democrats’ gun safety amendments

Ben Giles//April 1, 2013

Arizona gun billsThe Arizona Senate today defeated 18 amendments sponsored by Democrats for a bill to prevent the destruction of firearms surrendered to law enforcement agencies.

Among other things, the amendments would have required lost or stolen firearms to be reported to police and implemented university background checks for firearm sales. Almost all were defeated along party lines.

Democrats said the amendments were the only way they could raise concerns about gun safety after dozens of their bills had gone nowhere in the Legislature.

Sen. Linda Lopez, D-Tucson, and Sen. Steve Gallardo, D-Phoenix, combined to sponsor each of the amendments to HB2455, Rep. Brenda Barton’s bill to prevent the destruction of firearms purchased in gun buyback programs or weapons simply turned over to a law enforcement agency. The Senate’s Committee of the Whole voted in favor of HB2455, which faces a final vote in the Senate before it would go to the governor’s desk.

The amendments were all introduced and rejected with little debate from Senate Republicans, who challenged them not germane to the underlying bill.

After senators defeated Lopez’s amendment to allow local officials to determine if they want to allow the destruction of firearms, Gallardo rose 17 times to introduce amendments representing bills he sponsored this year that never got a committee hearing. The measures had been assigned to the Senate Rules Committee, a death blow dealt by Senate President Andy Biggs.

Although they knew the measures would be defeated by the Senate’s GOP majority, Senate Democrats lamented that this method of debate was their only avenue to get across a message in favor of gun control.

“Why aren’t we in the Arizona Legislature having the same debate that all 49 states are having, including Congress right now? Let’s have a real discussion on firearms and let’s get the guns out of the hands of bad guys,” Gallardo said on the floor.

Other amendments included an assault weapons ban, keeping records of all gun sales and transactions and banning the sale of high-capacity magazines such as the ones used in the deadly mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., and the Tucson shooting that injured former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and left six others dead.

Lopez gave a tearful plea for Gallardo’s amendment to ban high-capacity magazines in Arizona. The senator is a good friend of Giffords and served with her in the Arizona House of Representatives.

After all 18 amendments were defeated, Lopez and Senate Majority Leader Leah Landrum Taylor, D-Phoenix, tried one last unsuccessful procedural maneuver to change HB2245 with three of the amendments proposed by Lopez and Gallardo. They included Gallardo’s proposals to ban the sale of armor-piercing bullets and prevent people convicted of domestic violence from owning fire arms.

Gallardo and Landrum Taylor described those amendments, as well as some others defeated by Senate Republicans, as common sense measures that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle should be able to agree on.

“Seeing that there is an amendment that would do something, anything, to help victims of domestic violence, I can’t see where there would be any problem with that,” Landrum Taylor said.

And Gallardo questioned if armor-piercing bullets, or “cop-killing bullets” as the senator referred to them on the floor, were what the founding fathers intended to defend when they wrote the Second Amendment.

But each measure was defeated again, this time on a roll call vote, before Sen. Steve Pierce used a procedural maneuver of his own to cut short the debate and approve HB2455 without any more chances to amend the bill.

Democrats argued that debate was stifled, but Pierce, R-Prescott, said he was simply cutting short the repetitive nature of the Democrats attempts to amend the bill.

“I would agree with [Gallardo] entirely on debate, but when it gets to be redundancy and a waste of everyone’s time that is sitting here and trying to work and do the right thing for the state, I’ll do that again if I need to,” Pierce said.

Lopez later said that the only other amendment she planned to motion to reconsider was Gallardo’s ban of high capacity magazines like those used by the gunman in Tucson when Giffords and others were shot. Jared Loughner fired shots from a 33-round magazine before he was tackled while attempting to reload.

“I’d like for members to tell the family members of the six who were killed on Jan. 8, 2011 or the 13 who were wounded or the friends and loved ones of those 19 people that the debate on the Gallardo number 16 amendment was a waste of time and redundant,” Lopez said.