House Bill 2291 is proof that two people can look at the same thing and see it very differently.
Recently introduced by State Rep. Steve Smith, R-LD11, and four other Arizona Republican legislators, HB2291, relating to firearms, is undeniably bold in its calling, so much so that it has local Democrats pushing back with equal force.
In short, the bill refuses to acknowledge any federal gun regulation in state boundaries, stating, “Any federal law, rule, regulation, or order that is effective on or after Jan. 1 is unenforceable within the borders of this state if the law, rule, regulation or order attempts to do any of the following:”
1. Ban or restrict ownership of a semiautomatic firearm or any magazine of a firearm.
2. Require any firearm, magazine or other firearm accessory to be registered in any manner.
Section E, arguably the most controversial section of the bill, would charge any official or employee of the U.S. government who attempts to enforce firearm regulation with a class 6 felony.
“This bill protects Arizona’s Second Amendment rights,” said Smith. “It stops any executive order, agency order, or non-Congress-approved order from infringing on the rights we are granted under the constitution. An example I give is if the President didn’t like a certain religion, and put restraints on that religion – if he did that, people would be up in arms, especially if he did it without congressional approval.”
Where Smith stands strong in his convictions, State Rep Chad Campbell, LD24, a Phoenix-area Democrat, is calling the bill a waste of time and taxpayer dollars.
“This bill is ludicrous,” he said. “It is completely unconstitutional and lacks any relevance, meaning, or legal standing whatsoever. The point of the federal system is that federal law supercedes state law. If you want to challenge something, you take it to the courts. That’s how the system works. If a problem arises with what the President or a state-elected official does, you vote against them.”
The problem though, according to Smith, is that President Barack Obama has already been reelected, and that he continues to push an agenda on gun control without congressional approval.
“If President Obama wants to be a dictator, that doesn’t trump my Second Amendment rights,” said Smith. “If the President wants to send in agents to our state to regulate our gun rights, he would get hit with so many lawsuits before he even got anywhere.”
Smith also recognized that many local sheriffs have also refused to accept federal regulation, a point of view contradicted by a statement issued by Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday.
“One of the reasons the assault weapons ban makes sense, even though it accounts for a small percentage of gun deaths, is because police organizations overwhelmingly support it because they are outgunned on the street by the bad guys and the proliferation of those weapons,” Biden said.
Smith isn’t confident that the “bad guys” wouldn’t still manage to get their hands on such weapons and extended ammunition magazines, making the playing field uneven for law abiding citizens.
“They’re saying they’re only going to take the bad guns,” said Smith. “So the criminal can keep the bad ones? Because the criminals always find a way to get their hands on them.”
Still, Campbell sees the bill as further evidence that Republicans are unwilling to have meaningful conversation about gun laws.
“All a bill like this is doing is ruining the real conversation we should be having about guns,” he said. “For people who continue to ruffle the feathers and revolt against the federal government – if you want to secede from the Union, we can have that conversation, but I don’t think – and in fact I know – that Arizonans are not going to favor doing that.”
Smith found Campbell’s comment laughable, saying he has no plans to secede from the Union.