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Maricopa County Sheriff Penzone questions purpose of Arizona gun bill

(AP Photo, File)

PHOENIX – Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone said an Arizona gun bill designed to ensure the Second Amendment is not violated was confusing and put law enforcement in an awkward position.

“I think … there’s political motivation. It’s one of those emotional issues but as far as the impact on law enforcement, it will create confusion or challenges more than benefits or protecting the Second Amendment,” Penzone told KTAR 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News on Thursday.

“The people who wrote it really didn’t sit down and have a thoughtful conversation as to the application.”

The Arizona Senate on Tuesday voted to prohibit police and sheriffs from enforcing federal gun laws that violate the Second Amendment.

HB 2111 passed the House and moves on to Gov. Doug Ducey.

“I’m just a little bit confused as to what value it offers. It’s arbitrary,” Penzone said.

“You could make the easy argument saying it’s a state practice – the person has a right to bear arms, therefore you’re in conflict with that. Now you’re putting officers or deputies in this position where they’re questioning whether or not some other entity will determine if it’s in conflict with the Second Amendment, therefore do we act on it? And that’s where it creates problems.”

Republican backers said the bill would ensure that the rights of gun owners are protected from what they say is the potential for overreach by President Joe Biden’s administration.

Democrats said it will undermine the rule of law and is an unconstitutional measure that will cost taxpayers to defend in court.

“Whether you are very much in support of the second amendment, whether you have concerns about gun laws – the Constitution is its own entity,” Penzone said. “It has its protections. If you violate the Second Amendment, you don’t need a state statute to say that is unlawful or unconstitutional.”

The sheriff said he is focusing on other law enforcement matters.

“My priority right now is the loophole issue. We still are allowing for firearms, whether it’s small capacity or large capacity weapons to get in the hands of people who, if they went through that legal process that applies in certain circumstances, would be prohibited from that purchase,” Penzone said.

“So it’s how do we do a better job making sure people we know should not lawfully possess a firearm, that we’re doing our best to get the weapons out of their hands.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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