Guest Comment: ARS 13-3108 Impacts Public Safety | Explore wellness

Prior to my service on the Supervisory Board, I was an administrator and teacher for nearly 30 years. On two occasions, my staff members and I had to quarantine our schools because of reports that a student with a gun was wandering around campus. Although no one was hurt in these two incidents, I will never forget the looks of fear and uncertainty on the faces of my colleagues and students.

More times than I can remember, I have attended the funerals of students who have died as a result of gun violence. A girl who was the victim of a gang-related shooting and several suicides, including that of a sixth-grader, brings back memories of anguished family and friends. There’s something sickening about watching teenagers mourn the loss of a classmate at far too young an age.

Gun violence is an epidemic in our country, including in Pima County. Because Arizona counties are responsible under state law for protecting public health, our Board of Overseers should have the ability to protect residents from threats to public health and safety. . Unfortunately, the Arizona legislature limits our ability to fulfill this duty.

There is currently a law in force (ARS 13-3108) which prohibits political subdivisions from enacting “any order, rule or tax relating to the conveyance, possession, conveyance, sale, transfer, purchase , the acquisition, gift, disposal, storage, licensing, registration, discharge or use of firearms or ammunition or any part of a firearm or ammunition or related accessories in this state.” This law prevents local governments in our state from taking virtually any action to address gun safety or violence.

The Supervisory Board learned last year how restrictive this status was. Two of us have asked the county attorney to tell council whether or not we can ban gun shows from being held on the fairgrounds, or at least require gun dealers at those exhibits have federal firearms licenses, which would require them to perform background checks. checks. ARS 13-3108 prevented us from taking either of these actions.

Last month, I asked the county attorney if the council could consider a local “red flag” law, which would allow the sheriff and his deputies to confiscate firearms from any resident deemed dangerous. for himself or for others. There are 19 states with such laws, and it seemed to me that the county, as the regional public health authority, should be able to put such a law in place. Again, I was told that ARS 13-3108 prohibited the passing of such a law.

Following the Uvalde school shooting and the mass murder at a Buffalo grocery store, the US Congress passed the bipartisan Safer Communities Act (SCA). I am heartened that the process of protecting all Americans from the constant threat of gun violence has finally been taken up by our federal legislators.

Here are some of the opportunities the SCA has made available to the Arizona Legislature:

• Financial incentives for the enactment of national red flag laws.

•The ability for women to seek legal protection from abusive boyfriends.

•Access to billions of dollars for mental health care.

•Mandatory background checks for gun buyers aged 18-21.

• The possibility of imposing harsher penalties for ‘fictitious purchases’ of weapons (when a weapon is bought by one person and given to another).

•Access to $250 million in federal grants to establish local violence intervention programs.

We are going to elect a new legislature this year. It is high time for state lawmakers to act to ensure the safety of the public they say they serve. At a minimum, every legislator should act to take advantage of the opportunities the SCA has provided them. They should also move on to repeal ARS 13-3108 so that leaders at the local level can act as needed to protect our people.