PHOENIX — Senate Democrats frustrated that their gun control bills failed to get a single hearing tried Monday to tack 18 amendments onto a Republican bill banning cities and counties from destroying guns turned in at buybacks.
The procedural effort on the Senate floor was led by Sen. Steve Gallardo and top Democratic leaders. Gallardo’s amendments included a ban on armor piercing bullets, another on high-capacity magazines and an assault weapons ban.
Each was rejected by Republicans who control the Senate.
Democrats argue the underlying bill is counter to normal GOP arguments for local control. The bill passed the House on a 36-23 party-line vote last month, and was approved Monday on a voice vote in the Senate. It now requires a final Senate vote to pass and move to Gov. Jan Brewer’s desk.
At one point, after Republicans rejected the ban on high-capacity magazines, a tearful Sen. Linda Lopez addressed the Senate about the mass shooting in Tucson two years ago.
“In less than 20 seconds, the shooter with a high-capacity magazine with 30 shots killed 6 and wounded 13, including my good friend Gabrielle Giffords,” Lopez said. “How long does this have to go on?”
Other Gallardo amendments reinstating the state requirement for a concealed weapons permit, requiring universal background checks and mandating trigger locks for all guns were summarily rejected during a series of votes that took more than an hour. Gallardo said he put the Senate through the lengthy amendment debate because none of the bills got a hearing this session.
Even the ban on armor piercing bullets, which Gallardo said were designed solely to kill police officers wearing bullet-proof vests, failed to get any GOP support.
Democratic leaders, including minority leader Leah Landrum Taylor, were angered when Republicans used a procedural move to cut off debate on the amendments. Sen. Steve Pierce, R-Prescott, said he used the move to stop debate because it was becoming redundant.
The underlying bill is designed to close what Republicans call a loophole in a law passed last year requiring police to sell weapons they seize instead of destroying them.
Cities, including Tucson, have continued to hold the buy-back events and destroy the weapons.
A rejected Lopez amendment would have essentially revoked that law, restoring local governments’ ability to decide how to get rid of any firearms.
Rep. Justin Pierce, R-Mesa, chairman of the House Public Safety committee, said in February that he was getting thousands of emails from constituents opposed to the practice.
“Why should it be the responsibility of the state to destroy this property?” he asked.
Democrats said the state law banning the destruction of unwanted guns by local agencies puts Republicans who control the Legislature in the same position as their complaints that federal government laws and regulations put them in.
“It just goes back to what we all want, and it’s local control,” Gallardo said Monday.