Arizona House Initially OKs Interstate Firearms Compact

The state House took steps Monday to create an interstate compact that would limit Arizona’s ability to regulate firearms transfers.

Rep. Bob Thorpe, R-Flagstaff, said the proposed compact would prevent member states from creating firearms transfer laws that are more restrictive than federal law.

House Bill 2431 also repeals any laws or regulations in conflict with the compact in member states and nullifies any current or future law or voter initiative that would be in conflict with the compact.

If passed, Arizona would be the first state to enact the compact, but it wouldn’t go into effect until at least one other state joins.

The Arizona Citizen’s Defense League said the goal of the bill is to prevent legislation similar to what was recently passed in Washington that would require background checks for the sale and transfer of firearms between private parties.

Charles Heller, spokesman for the Arizona Citizen’s Defense League, said it would create a ceiling on existing state laws regarding gun transfers.

Democrats opposed the bill over concerns it will relinquish state sovereignty and prevent the state from drafting its own regulations.

Rep. Stefanie Mach, D-Tucson, said she was concerned that the state would have to seek federal approval before the compact could be enacted.

“So I’m wondering if we are passing yet another unnecessary bill that won’t go anywhere and in addition to that usurps the power of the people,” Mach said.

Rep. Bruce Wheeler, D-Tucson, said Arizona would lose its sovereignty if it enters into a compact with other states.

“How could we possibly allow ourselves to lose the sovereignty of our state to other states?” Wheeler said.

Thorpe amended the bill to include language that would allow a member state’s legislature to withdraw from the compact five years after its enactment, or during a meeting of member states’ governors.

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