ARIZONA — U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar Thursday unleashed a fierce attack on a proposed state senate bill to bar the sale of assault weapons and high capacity magazines.
“Twelve radical Democrats in Arizona have introduced shocking legislation, Senate Bill 1625, which would flagrantly violate the Bill of Rights and American civil liberties,” wrote Gosar (R-Prescott) in a press release. “Not only do these extremists seek to disarm citizens, leaving them without the ability to defend their families, themselves, or their property, they also directly attack Arizona jobs and the Arizona economy by seeking to unlawfully ban gun manufacturing in Arizona.”
Senate Bill 1625 would ban sale, manufacture, importation or possession of semiautomatic rifles with a detachable magazine holding more than 10 rounds. People who already own such weapons would have 90 days to remove them from the state, turn them into a law enforcement agency or make them permanently inoperable.
The bill would allow police and other categories of people to own assault rifles and high-capacity magazines, but they would have to register the weapons. The bill also has exceptions for firearms dealers and manufacturers under certain conditions.
The bill comes as several counties have declared themselves “Second Amendment Sanctuary” counties, including Apache, Yavapai and La Paz counties.
Congress enacted a similar, national ban in 1994, which expired in 2004. Courts upheld that law as constitional.
The Gifford’s Law Center website noted that the use of such weapons and magazines in mass shootings has increased significantly since Congress let the ban expire. The website (https://lawcenter.giffords.org/gun-laws/policy-areas/hardware-ammunition/large-capacity-magazines/) cited studies showing firearms with high-capacity magazines account for an estimated 22 to 36 percent of gun crimes and 40 percent of the serious violent crimes and murders of police. The share of guns used in crimes with such magazines has risen between 49 and 112% in several major cities since the ban expired.
One study found that during the 10-year period the ban was in effect nationally, mass shooting deaths were 70 percent less likely to occur and the number of people who died in mass shootings was 43 percent less.
Since the repeal of the ban, the number of mass shootings has risen 183 percent and the deaths in such shootings has risen 239 percent. The victim count on average is twice as high when a mass shooter has a high-capacity magazine.
Nine states have since enacted a ban on high-capacity magazines and/or assault weapons, including California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York. Vermont and Colorado only ban the high capacity magazines.
Some states ban importation, sale and manufacture but don’t require people who already own assault rifles and high capacity magazines to turn them in or register them.
Supporters of the ban say a mass shooter with a high capacity magazine can fire off many more rounds without stopping to reload. Incidents they cite include:
• A mass shooter in 2011 in Tucson killed six people and wounded 13 others, including US Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. A bystander stopped the rampage by tackling the shooter as he reloaded.
• The mass shooter in 2019 in Dayton, Ohio used an assault weapon and drum magazine with 100 rounds and got off at least 41 rounds in 30 seconds, killing nine and wounding 26.
• The 2017 mass shooter in Las Vegas fired 100 rounds in 10 seconds without reloading using a large capacity magazine, bump stock and assault rifle. He killed 50 people and wounded “hundreds.”
Gosar blasted efforts to enact restrictions on assault rifles and high capacity magazines in Arizona, saying it amounted to an attack on gun manufacturers in the state, including Sturm, Ruger & Co. in Prescott and HWP Ammo in Payson as well as Raytheon missiles in Tucson.
“An attack on one weapon manufacturer is an attack on all,” he said.
Rep. Gosar predicted bloodshed should the state require people who own assault weapons to permanently disable them or turn them in to law enforcement.
“The radical Democrats further seek to create a potentially lethal confrontation between lawful gun owners and law enforcement personnel who would foolishly seek to enforce this law if enacted. The proposed law states that lawful gun owners must “surrender” their guns — or else law enforcement will go house to house kicking in doors. This is completely unacceptable and creates a dangerous police-state confrontation with citizens.”
The issue of gun control may play a role in Arizona’s election this year, given the apparent lock Mark Kelly has on the Democratic nomination for the US senate seat. He will face appointed incumbent Sen. Martha McSally.
Kelly is the husband of former Rep. Giffords, gravely wounded in an assassination attempt in Tucson in 2011. She and Kelly started the Giffords Law Center in response, which has lobbied for gun control measures like closing registration loopholes and banning assault weapons.
In addition, Gov. Doug Ducey has supported “red flag” laws, which make it possible for police officers to at least temporarily take guns from people thought to pose a danger to themselves or others, pending a formal court hearing.
Some 60 to 70 percent of Americans support tougher gun control laws, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey. That includes 86 percent of Democrats and 31 percent of Republicans. (https://www.npr.)
Peter Aleshire covers county government and other topics for the Independent. He is the former editor of the Payson Roundup. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org