Common sense gun laws are good for Arizona

Arizona legislators may soon pass bills amending Shannon's law, making it so the government can't run background checks on private gun sales

With a firearm mortality rate of 13.8 per 100,000 people in 2015, Arizona has an above average rate of gun-related deaths.

Despite this, there have been two bills recently introduced to our legislature which aim to lessen regulation on firearms. HB2287 is a bill that would amend Shannon’s Law. SB1122 would make it so that the government couldn't enforce background checks for private sales. As an ASU student, I am concerned that our safety is being thrown aside with these bills.

Shannon’s Law was enacted in 2000 after a 17-year-old girl, Shannon Smith, was killed by a stray bullet. The bullet fell from the sky and hit her head while she was in her backyard. The person who fired the gun was never found.

Her parents helped to lead an effort to make a change to gun laws in Arizona. The result of this was Shannon’s Law, which made it a felony for anyone who discharged a firearm within the city limits of a municipality with criminal negligence.

The amendment would make it so that gun owners would not receive felony charges if they fire a gun near or within a municipality, as long as they claim it was an accident. In order to be charged for firing a weapon, the defendant would have to have fired it knowingly or recklessly.

SB1122 would prohibit the government from running background checks when any sort of private sale is made. This applies to the exchange of firearms and creates a way for people to trade or buy weapons without a background check, potentially leading to mentally unstable people obtaining a firearm.

“What we would like to see are fewer bills such as those noted above (bills that weaken Shannon’s Law and bills that expand private gun sales), and some consideration given to bills that could improve safety,” Meg Pardelt, co-leader of Gun Violence Prevention Arizona, said in an email.

When handling firearms, safety should always come first. Shannon's Law was a step in the right direction for Arizona and people should not have to worry about getting hit by a stray bullet while in their backyard.

If someone is irresponsible and accidentally fires a gun in a crowded area, then our government should be able to prosecute them, especially if accidentally firing a gun leads to someone's death.

“If we want to have a highly lethal product that’s easily accessible then we have to also take responsibility to make sure the public is safe,” Laura Cutilletta, managing attorney for the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said.

As a college student I feel that is especially important to have good laws which protect us from gun violence. Shootings on campus are always a big fear. Since 2013, there have been over 200 school shootings in the U.S. This is a staggering statistic, and should call for more responsible gun laws, and legislations such as Shannon’s Law and background checks are important to our safety.

I’m not trying to say that all gun owners are bad people or that we should ban firearms. Most gun owners are safe with their weapons and common sense gun laws should not heavily affect those who are responsible with their firearms.

Our safety should be a top priority for our legislators. It ought to be common sense that people shouldn't fire a gun in an area where people live and that background checks should be run when somebody purchases a firearm.

It is important to our well-being that we have common sense gun laws. 

Reach the columnist at or follow @Morganwillis37 on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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