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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: New gun laws would endanger students in AZ

The Arizona Senate approved three laws on March 28 expanding the rights of gun owners. These laws, HB 2446, HB 2524 and HB 2338, all make it easier for people to carry and own different types of firearms in Arizona and thus increase the risk of gun violence in our state.

HB 2446 states that any firearms that are not illegal under federal law are legal in Arizona. While this bill may seem fine at first glance, State Sen. Steve Farley, a Democrat from Tucson, has pointed out the dangers that come with it.*

Arizona gun owners already have more firearm privileges than their peers in most other states. In fact, a Washington Post report from December found Arizona to have the third most lax gun laws in the country, surpassed only by Louisiana and Mississippi. Most other states have enacted some degree of restrictions on gun ownership, not out of spite for gun owners, but for the safety of the community.

Nobody is trying to get rid of the right to bear arms; that would result in a full-blown revolt. Keep your guns, but does anyone really need to own small bombs? When would an average citizen need to legally use a grenade?

READStudy finds nine of 25 gun laws across U.S. increased violence

Unfortunately, this law is simply the tip of the iceberg. The next bill, HB 2524, would place Arizona in a pact with some other states to make sure no new law is passed requiring background checks when purchasing a gun.

Arizona law currently allows person-to-person private gun sales without a background check, which is mainly prevalent at gun shows. This bill would stop any effort to amend the background check rules and would essentially keep Arizona voters from having any further say in this law.

The final bill, HB 2338 is perhaps the worst of the three, as it states laws that ban firearms on school grounds and college campuses do not apply to the public sidewalks and streets around, or even through, the campuses.

In 1990, the federal government established the Gun-Free School Zones Act. It has been amended in the past 26 years, but it still essentially states that guns would not be allowed on any school or college campuses, and also in school zones, which are defined as 1000 feet from the grounds of a school.

Allowing guns on the sidewalks outside of a school is actually undermining federal law. While gun-free zones will not stop a mass shooter, they will definitely make other people more cautious when keeping their guns safe. Many incidents of gun-related injuries or deaths are results of unintentional accidents from improperly stored guns, and this is especially important to control near a school.

People may argue that the Gun-Free School Zones Act is difficult to adhere to for people who are simply passing through a school area. However, the GFSZA does not apply to people driving through the school zones with an unloaded, properly stowed gun or for people with permits. The provision is already written into the law.

How will allowing guns on public sidewalks next to a school benefit anyone? Why do gun owners need to carry their firearms with them while walking by a school?

This will also pose a problem on college campuses since the major streets that run around the college are all public property. Here at the UA, we have many areas, including the shops and restaurants on University Boulevard, which are technically off-campus but are surrounded by on-campus buildings and streets. Allowing guns in these places would open up a host of dangers to students.

These bills will do nothing to protect our safety and will only make it easier for gun violence to occur. The bills still need to get final approval to be sent to the governor, but with their current support, it is very likely that they will pass.

The triple threat is a danger to children, colleges and even the constitutional rights of voters to affect change in the law — and for what? A fight to give gun owners even more power in a state with some of the most pro-gun laws? We have to learn as a society soon that guns cause more problems than they solve, and ensure the safety of all citizens.

*Corrections: A quote from State Sen. Steve Farley was removed due to the senator retracting his statement, claiming he misread HB 2446. The quote was: “We’re not just talking about guns here,” Farley said in an article from the Arizona Daily Star. “We’re talking about bombs, grenades, rockets having a propellant charge of more than four ounces and that is explosive, and incendiary or poison gas. So we’re now in favor of rights for poison gas.”

Follow Apoorva Bhaskara on Twitter.

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