Arizona Senate approves bill banning universal background checks

The Arizona Senate voted Wednesday to approve a bill prohibiting local governments from requiring background checks for private transfers of items, including firearms.

Senate Bill 1122, introduced in January by Sen. Gail Griffin, R-Cochise, drew criticism from Democrats on the floor, namely Sen. Steve Farley, D-Tucson, who called it a “bad idea.”

“This is over-wrought,” he said Tuesday during session. “This does not allow local cities or counties to do any type of a background check for any exchange of property including cars. This is being decided before the state Supreme Court right now so let’s not rush it. We should not be deicing for a city what’s best for the public safety of its citizens.”

The case Farley referenced pits Tucson against the state over its destruction of seized or surrendered firearms. The policy preempts state law which requires such firearms be sold, though a court decision in favor of Tucson would quash SB 1122, Farley said.

“The city of Tucson is arguing that gun regulations are a matter of local control,” he said. “I think we should wait to see what the court decides before we make any more laws that could be invalidated.”

Mick Rusing, an attorney for the National Rifle Association, said Monday the Tucson policy makes guns more expensive to buy because it reduces supply, according to the Arizona Capitol Times.

Rusing told the newspaper “a mountain of empirical evidence supports the legislature’s judgment that Tucson’s efforts to eliminate as many lawful firearms as possible would ultimately increase the rate of violent crime.”

While the court mulls its decision, it will be up to the House to move SB 1122 and get it to the governor’s desk. The proposal was transmitted to the chamber Wednesday and awaits consideration.