Senator Linda Lopez introduces legislation for gun control

Sen. Linda Lopez, D-Tucson, and community representatives introduced a three-pronged bill Thursday afternoon that would regulate all gun transactions outside the State Capitol.

The proposed legislation demands background checks for all buyers, bans high-capacity ammunition magazines and looks to repeal Senate Bill 1241, which requires law enforcement to sell seized weapons to licensed gun dealers.

“(My bill) puts back in the hands of local law enforcement the ability to dispose of weapons the way they want to,” Lopez said after the event.

It’s possible to reduce violence if the number of shots in a magazine is limited, Lopez said.

The legislation would also require universal background checks for every gun buyer.

“Here we have something that is made just to kill, and we don’t require it to be registered when it’s a private sale,” she said. “At least making sure that we contract weapons is very important.”

Most citizens in Arizona support reasonable gun control legislation, Lopez said.

“Day after day, there’s blood shed on the streets of Arizona and across the country,” Lopez said. “(Arizona has) one of the highest levels of violence, and it causes people to die before they should.”

Lopez, who works in the Tucson behavioral health center La Frontera Arizona, said she understands the needs of mental health patients in the state.

It’s important to stop stigmatizing the mentally ill, Lopez said.

“We are trying to make sure that those persons, whether they are mentally ill or just really mad, can’t get out and get a gun easily, and that they cannot access high-capacity clips,” she said.

The nonprofit organization Arizonans for Gun Safety supports Lopez’s proposed legislation.

AzGS board member Geraldine Hills, who spoke at the event, said weapons seized in criminal activities should not be put back in the market.

“The minimum revenue … is not worth the risk of guns being reused or the additional pain it causes to gun-violence victims,” she said.

The legislation could be an important tool for law enforcement, Hills said.

“If we have a right to own a gun, don’t we also have the right to dispose of it as we see fit?” she said.

Sen. Linda Lopez, D-Tucson, introduced a new bill on Arizona gun safety on the lawn of the State Capitol on Thursday. The proposed legislation bans high-capacity magazines and requires background checks for all buyers, as well as repealing Senate Bill 1241. (Photo by Ana Ramirez)

Sen. Linda Lopez, D-Tucson, introduced a new bill on Arizona gun safety on the lawn of the State Capitol on Thursday. The proposed legislation bans high-capacity magazines and requires background checks for all buyers, as well as repealing Senate Bill 1241. (Photo by Ana Ramirez)

Rev. John Dorhauer of the United Church of Christ, who addressed the crowd in support of the legislation, said gun control is imperative.

“If, after what happened in Newton, Conn., we can’t pass reasonable gun control legislation … we have ceased to be a government for the people,” he said.

Jose Guzman, president of the Arizona chapter of the National Organization of Parents of Murdered Children, said the legislation is a step in the right direction.

“I lost my son seven years ago,” he said. “The guy used an AK-47.”

His son was 17 years old when he was shot while working at a Subway.

The organization helps the community in any way they can, Guzman said in Spanish after the press conference.

“We help families who are going through a tough time,” Guzman said. “We also offer counseling services.”

The POMC informs victims’ relatives of their rights, Guzman said.

“The Hispanic community lacks some knowledge and is afraid to go to the police to ask for help,” he said.

Daniela Barcenas, 18, has been a victim of gun violence and attends group therapy twice a month at the POMC. She also volunteers at the organization.

“It’s like another family for us,” she said. “We share each other’s pain, and we tell each other our story.”

The legislation is needed more than ever, Barcenas said.

Author Alan Korwin, who runs the website gunlaws.com, said the proposed legislation reflects little knowledge of the subject.

“Proposals like (Lopez’s) get in the way of increasing the safety of children,” he said. “The problem is criminals with guns. Criminals should have no guns with no bullets at all.”

The legislation does not address the issue of how to disarm criminals and may interfere with people’s rights, Korwin said.

“If she’s infringing on the rights of innocent victims, then she’s in direct violation of the Constitution,” he said.

 

Reach the reporter at dpbaltaz@asu.edu or follow her on Twitter @dpalomabp