Democrats in Arizona Senate force vote on gun background checks

May 31, 2022, 6:30 PM
(KTAR News File Photo/Torrence Dunham)...
(KTAR News File Photo/Torrence Dunham)
(KTAR News File Photo/Torrence Dunham)

PHOENIX (AP) — Minority Democrats in the Arizona Senate used a procedural move Tuesday to force a vote on legislation that would require background checks for any firearm purchase.

The move came a week after a man armed with two AR-15-type rifles killed 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. The effort led to more than an hour of pleas from Democrats and pushback from Republicans, who for years have blocked all gun restrictions.

All 16 Senate Republicans voted against the measure, while the 13 Democrats supported it. The bill, which never got a hearing, would have closed the so-called gun show loophole that allows someone to buy a gun without the federal background check that federally licensed firearms dealers are required to perform before a sale is completed.

Republicans won’t even assign Democratic gun bills to a committee, meaning they never get hearings or a chance to get a formal floor vote. Democratic Sen. Martin Quezada bypassed that process to bring it right to the floor.

“This isn’t a radical idea – this isn’t something that other state aren’t considering or even enacting,” Quezada said.

He called requiring background checks for private gun purchases, anything except a transfer to a family member, a commonsense measure supported by overwhelmingly majorities of Americans that won’t prevent anyone legally allowed to have a gun from purchasing one.

“We have that loophole built into our public policy,” he said. “And closing it, fixing this policy would save lives.”

Republicans listened as Democrat after Democrat pleaded for their support, including a tearful Sen. Raquel Teran, who said she can’t stop watching the stories of the slain children while thinking of her young son.

“The ask here is to vote on commonsense legislation,” Teran said. “If this is not it, what is it? Let’s come to the table, let’s work together, I know we can.”

Republicans said there was no way they’d back the background check bill.

Republican Sen. Sonny Borrelli said it would impact private property rights, and said it would keep him from selling a gun to a trusted friend. He noted that the 18-year-old gunman legally bought the two rifles. He then read part of the Second Amendment.

GOP Sen. Rick Gray pointed to gun violence in Chicago, in a state with tough gun laws and a seeming unending string of shootings each weekend.

“Night after night, week after week, year after year, children are dying of gun violence in Chicago,” Gray said. “But when it comes to Texas, let’s stir this up, and let’s make a political statement here to pass gun laws.”

And Sen. Warren Petersen said he too wouldn’t back the Democrats’ measure.

“The reason why this bill should not be supported is because it will stop law-abiding citizens from protecting themselves,” Petersen said. “Criminals will not abide by this law. Only law-abiding citizens will abide by this law.

“I vote no so good guys with guns can stop bad guys with guns,” he added.

Democrats noted that good guys with guns were not able to save the children from the gunman.

“This ‘good guy with a gun’ nonsense — if you read the papers there were multiple police officers, armed police offers, standing outside in the parking lot when the guy was in the classroom killing children,” Democratic Sen. Rebecca Rios said.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

(KTAR News Photo/Jeremy Schnell)...
Taylor Tasler

Arizona corrections director says drugs getting into prisons, has plan for reform

Arizona Department of Corrections Rehabilitation and Reentry Director Ryan Thornell knows drugs are in prisons and has a plan for reform.
5 hours ago
(Photo by Gordon Chibroski/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)...
Griselda Zetino

Advocacy group to act as ‘watchdog’ for Arizona English-language learners

A Valley advocacy group plans to act as a "watchdog" for all things coming out of the Department of Education, including Arizona schools chief Tom Horne's efforts.
5 hours ago
(Everclear Photo/Ashley Osborn)...

Alt-rock veterans Everclear to take center stage at Mesa Music Festival in April

Alt rockers Everclear headline the upcoming sixth annual Mesa Music Festival, a free three-day event designed to promote emerging artists.
5 hours ago
(RED Development Rendering)...

Life Time plans luxury apartments, fit living complex for Paradise Valley Mall makeover

A Phoenix developer and a national health club chain are working together to build a luxury community at the reimagined Paradise Valley Mall.
5 hours ago
Desiria Bell, 36, Kross Cain, 3, and Zhariel Cain, 9. (Surprise Police Department Photos)...

Surprise police search for 3 children believed to be with noncustodial mother

The Surprise Police Department is searching for two children who were last seen on Sunday with their noncustodial mother.
1 day ago
(Facebook File Photo/Phoenix Police Department)...

Man claims self-defense after a fatal shooting in north Phoenix

A man claimed self-defense after a fatal shooting at a north Phoenix apartment complex Tuesday night, authorities said.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

(Photo by Michael Matthey/picture alliance via Getty Images)...
Cox Communications

Valley Boys & Girls Club uses esports to help kids make healthy choices

KTAR’s Community Spotlight focuses on the Boys & Girls Club of the Valley and the work to incorporate esports into children's lives.
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Company looking for oldest air conditioner and wants to reward homeowner with new one

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.
(Photo via MLB's Arizona Fall League / Twitter)...
Arizona Fall League

Top prospects to watch at this year’s Arizona Fall League

One of the most exciting elements of the MLB offseason is the Arizona Fall League, which began its 30th season Monday.
Democrats in Arizona Senate force vote on gun background checks