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Lawsuit challenges Pima County stolen gun ordinance

The civil liberties group, Goldwater Institute, claims the county’s decision violates Arizona law which bans local governments from passing gun regulations.

PIMA COUNTY, Ariz. — Pima County is at the center of a new debate over guns in Arizona.

The civil liberties group Goldwater Institute has brought a lawsuit against the county over an ordinance passed by the Board of Supervisors back in March.

The ordinance requires gun owners to report lost or stolen guns within 48 hours, or potentially face fines up to $1,000.

“The ordinance is illegal because the board doesn’t have the authority to pass it,” said Parker Jackson, a lawyer with the Goldwater Institute.

The group claims the county’s decision violates Arizona law which bans local governments from passing gun regulations.

Currently, Arizona has two statutes that prevent local municipalities from firearm regulation.

Jackson said through a public records request, they learned the ordinance had been in discussion for a few years. He also claims it doesn’t target criminals and revictimizes gun owners a second time.

“Arizona lawmakers have done a great job in recent years with gun laws that are in sync,” Jackson said. “That uniformity and predictability is important because those rights should be the same throughout the state.”

Pima County District 1 Supervisor Rex Scott spearheaded the change which was approved in a 4-1 vote.

“If you’re a law-abiding gun owner here in Pima County, you have nothing to fear from this ordinance,” said Scott.

Scott said the county is looking to target prohibited possessors and straw buy purchases of guns.

“Oftentimes when guns are allegedly lost or stolen, it’s actually a cover for a straw purchase,” Scott said.

He calls the change another tool to tackle gun violence in the county. Violence is often at the hands of prohibited possessors, who should not legally have a weapon, Scott said.

“This is a significant health and public safety issue. I wish Arizona lawmakers would not restrict us in finding solutions to help our communities,” said Scott.

The ordinance was written in conjunction of the Pima County Attorney’s Office, Scott said, and that the office has discretion on how to enforce the ordinance.

“We’re not interested in going after people who legitimately had a gun lost or stolen,” Scott said.

The lawsuit is currently making its way through the court.

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