I want to take this opportunity to address important concerns appearing in a recent Sonoran News editorial written by a fellow champion of the Second Amendment, Drake Mitchell, regarding Senate Bill 1519, known as the school safety bill. This was legislation written earlier this year by the Governor’s office in consultation with teachers, students, legislators, governors from other states, pro-Second Amendment advocacy groups, law enforcement, school officials, etc. in response to the wave of school shootings across the country.

I agreed to run the bill and put my name on it only under the strict condition that I’d have the ability to change it. Indeed, this did happen shortly after the bill was introduced with a strike-everything committee amendment only possible due to the authority granted to me through committee chair privilege (which I was more than happy to fully exercise that day).

The NRA was in full support of the initial legislation; however, the Arizona Citizens Defense League (AZCDL) was not. When the bill was assigned to my committee, the Governor’s office and I worked directly with the AZCDL. I authored an amendment addressing their concerns which brought them from opposing the bill to being neutral. AZCDL even sent an official newsletter update to their members after the committee hearing with a formal statement that my amendment not only addressed their concerns, but fixed them as well.

After the committee work was finished and the bill moved on for a vote in the full Senate, I further amended the legislation with a complete removal of the entire ex-parte, or citizen STOP order section because I was uncomfortable with some of the language. The amended version of the SB 1519 bill, which included my fixes, passed the Senate with every Republican voting for it and every Democrat voting against it (and I was told by AZCDL that they may have fully supported the bill because of the amendments I authored).

I’d like to remind readers that Arizona is the #1 ranked state for Second Amendment rights much due to the legislation I have written and sponsored over the years, so if this bill was unconstitutional or infringed on any of our God-given rights, there would be no way that every Republican would have voted for it. I might also add that, had the final legislation been unconstitutional in any way, I certainly wouldn’t have supported it. You might ask for proof? One need only look to my strong gun rights record in the Legislature over the course of the past 7+ years, as I have an A+ rating from the NRA, 100 percent voting record with the AZCDL, and am also endorsed by Gun Owners of America (the no-compromise gun rights organization with over 1.5 million members across the country).

At the end of the day, I tremendously appreciate the opportunity to clarify what’s been published in recent days regarding this bill. In the end, although the Senate did it’s due diligence and passed the bill (which included my amendments), it never received a vote in the House before session ended and it eventually expired.

As seen with my A+ ranking with the NRA and my full endorsement from the 1.5 million member, no-compromise Gun Owners of America group, I will always work tirelessly to protect law-abiding gun owners from big government infringement on our Second Amendment rights.

Don’t believe me? Come try prying MY gun from MY cold, dead hands.

State Sen. Steve Smith is from Maricopa. He is a candidate for U.S. Congress in District 1.

(3) comments


Mr. Smith, if you didn’t like the bill from its onset, should you not have rewritten it before you put it forward? You only started changing it after people started pointing things out to you that were not constitutional.

How many weeks was it before AZCDL was called? Wasn’t it about 10 and only because YOUR bill was failing? So, no, you did not start working with AZCDL, as you say when the bill was assigned to your committee.
Isn’t it true that Dave Kopp made many requests and suggestions and he was totally ignored? I suspect he went Neutral to remain at the table. Maybe he hoped he would eventually change your mind.
See quote below from AZ Capital Times:
“Dave Kopp of the Arizona Citizens Defense League said there appears to be too much focus on weapons and not enough on school safety. He wants to arm staff, secure school perimeters and have stronger doors and windows, “things like that to make the building a harder target.”
Tucsonan Ken Rineer, president of Gun Owners of Arizona, who has advocated for arming teachers, had similar objections to anything he believes infringes on gun rights.
“This bill is more about seizing firearms than about treating mental illness,” he told lawmakers.”

NO, Mr. Smith, the fact of the matter is you wrote an anti-gun and an anti-rights bill. Had you cared enough you wouldn’t have had folks fight you tooth and nail for their rights. Fortunately, the REAL CONSTITUTIONAL CONSERVATIVES of Arizona had enough savvy to send thousands of emails to stop you and your bill that did nothing for the safety of school children but attempted to bypass the Constitution on others.

Stephen Wenger

For the record, what AzCDL actually said in its May 2 e-mail was:

"...We believe the adopted amendments represent a significant improvement over the original proposal and have changed our position to neutral. We appreciate the cooperation of the Governor's office and various legislators in bringing these changes about. However, the bill still has a long way to go before we could consider supporting it.

"As noted previously, we have always believed that, when it comes to the safety of our children, the concept of STOP orders misses the mark. While no one wants dangerous people running around with guns, they should not be running around at all. If we deny them access to a firearm, they can still purchase gasoline, matches, knives, impact weapons, cars or trucks, etc., which they can use to murder people. If a person is so dangerous that they should not be allowed to have a gun, then they certainly should not be allowed out amongst the public. Realistic solutions should focus on keeping dangerous people away from the people they might harm.

"Then there is the problem of so-called "gun free zones", schools being the largest and most obvious. How many times does a lunatic with a gun have to show up in one of these before we realize that the only people free of guns are the people getting killed trying to protect our children. Every time one of these armed lunatics has arrived and started killing, people with guns are called to handle the problem. Do we not understand that having people with guns already there is a better option?

"Yet there is very little in the bill to address these issues. There are some positive additions, but they don't go nearly far enough. Other states have moved towards arming faculty and staff. At the very least, the bill should provide for a panel or study committee to look at how other states are dealing with this.

"In sum, while we do believe the bill is no longer the egregious threat to our liberties that it started as, it still needs work before we can consider it to be a positive contribution to the public policy of our great state. We look forward to ensuring that SB 1519 remains on a positive path forward as it moves through the House."

Thankfully, Gov. Ducey appeared to lose interest - for the current year - in his misguided bill, after it was amended.


Anything beyond "shall not be infringed" does not get my support.

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