On Wednesday, Republicans in the US Senate killed the universal background checks gun control bill despite the fact that over 90% of Americans supported the measure. The day before, on Tuesday, the Arizona legislature passed a bill that would basically force city gun buyback programs to become gun dealers.
In the months since the tragic mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, cities across the nation have created gun buyback programs that offer cash to people who surrender their unwanted firearms for destruction. Thousands upon thousands of guns have been surrendered thus far, even in Tucson, Arizona, which experienced a shooting tragedy of its own in 2011 in which six people were murdered and former US Rep. Gabby Giffords was shot in the head. But Arizona Republicans have passed a bill in response to these city and police buybacks of guns and if you were infuriated by the Senate vote on Wednesday, you’ll be even angrier at Arizona today.
Passed by the Arizona Senate by a vote of 18-12, HB 2455 closes loopholes that allows cities to destroy surrendered guns, thus banning the destruction of guns in the state and forces cities and police to sell them “to federally licensed firearms dealers who then would offer them for resale.” In other words, Arizona Republicans are ignoring the wishes of those who voluntarily surrender their guns for destruction so that they can put more guns on the street.
This isn’t the first time Arizona Republicans have barred the destruction of guns. According to the East Valley Tribune, a 2010 law “set the first restrictions against governments destroying weapons they have seized.”
In 2012, Republicans went even further, adding a provision “which also covers “found property,” defined as anything recovered, lost or abandoned that is not needed as evidence.”
This year, in the midst of intense debate of gun laws, Arizona is now attacking cities for destroying guns that could otherwise end up in the hands of criminals. “Cities argued they retain the ability to obtain — and destroy — weapons given voluntarily to police,” the Tribune reports. “This legislation, which already has been approved by the House, seeks to block that by adding the word “surrendered” to what is considered found and therefore must be sold off.”
Arizona is gun crazy. So crazy in fact, that even the Republican Senate President admitted that people can buy the surrendered guns and turn around and sell them to others for cash. And considering how weak the background check system is in this country, it’s a safe bet to say that many of these guns that should have been destroyed will now end up in the hands of people who will commit crimes with them. The bill now heads to Governor Brewer for her signature.
The Daily Show with John Stewart highlighted the battle that Arizona gun rights activists were waging against the buyback programs. In that segment a pro-gun rights activist compared destroying guns to the Holocaust and claimed that guns were the real victims of gun violence despite the fact that guns are hunks of steel while people are living breathing human beings.
The Arizona bill caused fierce debate in the Senate. At one point, Democratic state Senator David Bradley stated that Republicans are making it “safer to be a gun than a child in this state.” And that’s true. Children are often the victims of gun violence and accidental shootings, but instead of tightening up gun laws to prevent children from being killed by guns, Republicans would rather pass a law forcing cities and police to put guns back on the streets that will undoubtedly end the lives of many children in the future. Instead of protecting children, Republicans are more interested in protecting guns that people surrendered for the express purpose of having them destroyed. Many people undoubtedly surrendered their guns to keep their children from being harmed with them. Now those same children could be killed with the very guns their parents surrendered. Is anyone infuriated yet?