Wed, June 26

Proposal would exempt Arizona-made guns from federal rules, registration

PHOENIX -- The state House voted Thursday to let Arizonans buy guns without the government knowing -- but only if the weapons are manufactured in this state.

Without debate, lawmakers gave preliminary approval to legislation that would say that Arizona-made firearms and ammunition are subject only to state laws. More to the point, HB 2307 would specifically exempt these items from any federal regulation, including registration.

That is precisely what Rep. Nancy McLain, R-Bullhead City, wants.

"If we have someone that takes office that is intent on confiscating guns, then all they do is go to the registration and say, "This person at this address has a gun,' and we'll go get it from you,' she said.

What her measure also would do is exempt those who buy Arizona-made guns from any sort of background check.

But McLain said that wasn't her intent. And she promised to have the legislation fixed when it goes to the Senate following a roll-call vote in the House.

McLain said the measure, modeled after a Montana law, is meant to be a direct challenge to federal firearms regulations. She said the government is getting into areas that are beyond their purview, like regulating who can buy and carry a gun, using the excuse that the weapons and the ammo got to Arizona crossing state lines.

HB 2307 says weapons made in Arizona and stamped accordingly are exempt from those federal rules, including registration.

More to the point, McLain pointed out that Arizona has no requirements to register firearms. And her legislation does not set up such a system.

What Arizona also does not have is any requirement for a background check for the simple purchase of a handgun, rifle or shotgun. The only people who have to be screened are those who want a state-issued permit to carry a concealed weapon. That does not include anyone who wants to carry a gun on a hip, or just take it home for protection.

McLain said, though, the state may need to set up such a system for the sale of Arizona-made firearms.

"I'm opposed to gun registration,' she said.

"I'm not opposed to background checks,' McLain continued. "There are certain people, felons and those sorts of folks, that ought not to be in possession of weapons.'

McLain said if her measure becomes law she expects the state will have to go to court to defend it.

After Montana adopted its law, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives sent an open letter to licensed federal firearms dealers saying that federal law supersedes the new state statute.

Several organizations then filed suit in federal court challenging the right of the federal government to control firearms and ammunition manufactured and sold within Montana. That lawsuit is still pending.