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Pima County Supes vote to require gun owners to report missing firearms

The Pima County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to enact an ordinance requiring gun owners to report stolen firearms within 48 hours, or face fines.

However, the ordinance could face legal challenges.

1st District Democratic Supervisor Rex Scott, who proposed the measure, said he hoped it would act as a deterrent to so-called “straw buyers,” who purchase firearms and transfer them to prohibited owners who cannot pass background checks. He said there was.

“This ordinance is intended to combat straw purchasers,” Scott said. “This ordinance is intended to keep weapons out of the hands of prohibited bearers. … This is a small step.”

Prohibited possessors include people convicted of felonies or domestic violence crimes, people involuntarily detained for mental health treatment, and illegal immigrants.

Under the ordinance, Scott said, “Straw purchasers will be prevented or deterred from claiming that if they purchase a firearm and transfer it to a prohibited owner, it was lost or stolen in an unreported theft.'' It will be done,” he said. And for prohibited owners, it would prevent or deter law enforcement from falsely claiming the firearm was lost or stolen when they attempt to remove it. ”

The new ordinance would require anyone who knew or reasonably should have known that a gun was stolen or lost to report it to local authorities within 48 hours of discovering the gun was missing. Failure to do so would result in fines of up to $1,000 per violation, compared to $300 in the draft language.

Republican Supervisor Steve Christie, who voted against the proposal, seemed perplexed by the provision at Tuesday's meeting of the five-member Oversight Committee.

Christie said he thinks it's a bad idea to fine people who report stolen or lost firearms when they're doing their civic duty.

“Let's say I'm Joe 'Good Citizen' Smith and I have a gun,” the 4th District supervisor said. “And then you lose it for whatever reason. Now, based on this resolution, if I realize I've lost this gun, I'm going to march to the police station, announce that I've lost the gun, and then I'm going to… It is my duty to expect to be fined for announcing that. Firearms?”

Dan Jurkowitz, supervising attorney for the Pima County Attorney's Office, told the commission there is no fine for reporting a lost or stolen gun, but rather a fine for failing to report a lost or stolen gun. I made it clear.

“This ordinance makes it illegal to fail to report a lost or stolen firearm to law enforcement,” Jurkowitz said during the meeting. “It is only illegal to report to law enforcement if it is a knowingly false report, which is also illegal under current Arizona law.”

Christie said his concerns remain valid.

“I don't think you address the issue that I was raising in any way, shape, or form,” Christie said after hearing Jurkowitz's explanation of the clause.

Christie said the ordinance does nothing to stop the illegal importation of firearms from Mexico.

“How do we deal with gun trafficking coming across our borders, gun abuse and violence coming across our borders?” Christie asked.

Democratic Supervisor Matt Heinz, who represents the 2nd District, said the majority of firearms that cross the border are smuggled into Mexico.

“I believe a country called Mexico is suing multiple gun manufacturers in the United States, and this case was recently allowed to proceed because of the huge amount of weapons flowing south,” Heinz said. Ta. “They're not coming with the people at the border seeking asylum.”

The Mexican government has also accused gun dealers in Arizona, including in Tucson, of systematically participating in gun smuggling into Arizona by selling to wallah buyers.

Christie said he sees the ordinance as an election-year ploy to distract from immigration issues, which he said is “the fault of my Democratic colleagues on this committee.”

“This is a classic distraction and diversion, and we do this quite often with resolutions like this to take minds and eyes and thoughts away from the biggest issues facing not only Pima County but the state.” “My colleagues know very well “Arizona and our country, and that's illegal immigration,'' Christie said.

Scott, Heinz and Supervisor Sylvia Lee said they would like to pass stricter ordinances to prevent gun violence, but state law currently requires counties, cities and towns to Prohibits enacting measures beyond those regulated by state law.

The county ordinance states that state law prohibits “local regulations relating to the transportation, possession, conveyance, sale, transfer, purchase, acquisition, gift, devising, storage, licensing, registration, discharge, or use of firearms.” It is pointed out that there is a reporting obligation. Lost or stolen firearms have nothing to do with those issues. ”

The ordinance notes that the Arizona Court of Appeals, in a case involving the city of Tucson, found that state law prohibits local firearm regulations only on issues specifically identified in state law.

State lawmakers can file a so-called 1487 complaint with the Arizona Attorney General's Office to determine whether the ordinance complies with state law. Pima County Chief Deputy Civil Attorney Sam Brown said in a 2013 complaint filed by former Attorney General Tom Horn that Tucson's ordinance requiring the reporting of lost or stolen firearms violates state law and that the city's ordinance requires the reporting of lost or stolen firearms. He pointed out that the government had determined that the state would have to repeal it or face the loss of state funding.

“That's an open question,” Brown said. “We don’t agree with that particular AG opinion.”

“Possession” is one of the regulations prohibited by the law, but “the loss and theft ordinance isn't really about possession because you're no longer in possession,” Brown said.

Brown said last week that state lawmakers “will probably file” the 1487 complaint, but predicted that the law could be interpreted differently under Democratic Attorney General Chris Mays, elected in 2022. .

County attorneys did not work with the AG's office to draft the ordinance, but they consulted with state attorneys as they prepared the language, Brown said.

He worked for Gabby Giffords when she was a Democrat and has been an advocate against gun violence since being injured in a 2011 shooting at Giffords' Congress on Your Corner event. Pam Simon told supervisors the ordinance was a policy move. In the right direction.

“I know what it's like to have a firearm put into the hands of someone who shouldn't have one, and a bullet put into my arm and into my chest,” Simon said. “So this issue is very real to me. I welcome all measures to keep firearms out of the hands of people who are a danger to the public.”

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