The Republican legislator who spearheaded Arizona’s new Second Amendment Sanctuary law described Tucson’s recent passage of a resolution upholding federal regulation of firearms as a political move with “no teeth at all.”
“We have our own [state] constitution. We have our own state laws for a reason. It’s unfortunate they’re even taking this stance at all,” said Rep. Leo Biasucci.
“If they ever tried to enforce it as a city law, it would be challenged in a court and they would lose in a heartbeat,” he said.
On June 22, Tucson Mayor Regina Romero and the City Council voted unanimously to adopt Resolution 23357, a three-page document that characterizes Arizona’s 2nd Amendment Freedom Act as unconstitutional.
The document states that when it comes to firearms, federal law trumps the state constitution, and that “constitutional federal laws or regulations that regulate firearms will have full effect within the city of Tucson; and declaring an emergency.”
“Notwithstanding the provisions [of state law], the Mayor and Council direct the City Manager to continue to allow the use of city personnel and/or financial resources to enforce, administer and/or cooperate with federal actions and/or programs that regulate firearms, unless and until such federal action or program is found by a court of competent jurisdiction to violate the provisions of the United States Constitution,” it reads.
Such actions may include background checks, a ban on high-capacity magazines and assault weapons, establishing “red flag” laws, and outlawing so-called “ghost guns.”
In April, Gov. Doug Ducey signed into law HB2111 (pdf), which prohibits the state and its political subdivisions, including municipalities, from “using any personnel or financial resources to enforce, administer, or cooperate with any act, law, treaty, order, rule, or regulation of the United States that is inconsistent with any law of this state regarding the regulation of firearms.”
City Council member Steven Kozachik introduced the resolution, which states that the “Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the land to which all government, state and federal, is subject.”
The resolution added that the U.S. Supreme Court has “explicitly rejected the idea that states can nullify federal law.”
In the resolution, the mayor and council authorized the city attorney to act as an impartial adviser in any legal action relating to Second Amendment sanctuary law in Arizona.
Kozachik and Romero could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.
Biasucci noted that the resolution lacks the same force as a city ordinance and that any attempt by Tucson officials to pass any law restricting gun ownership would face an immediate legal challenge.
“I’m interested to see if this goes anywhere. I’m not too worried about it,” Biasucci said.
At present, 19 states, or jurisdictions within them, have enacted Second Amendment Sanctuary laws that seek to nullify any federal mandate that is deemed in violation of the constitutional right to bear arms.
“I think it’s a temper tantrum being thrown by leftists,” said Arizona Rep. Mark Finchem, a Republican. “They’ve already lost in court.”
Finchem was referring to an Arizona Supreme Court ruling in 2017, which declared that Tucson cannot destroy confiscated guns because it violates state law.
He said the city reportedly confiscated and destroyed 4,800 firearms without the authority to do so, prompting an attorney general investigation in which he was involved.
Finchem said that Tucson’s resolution may also violate state law, and by doing so. could put at risk the city’s access to state shared revenues.
“We’re talking hundreds of millions of [dollars] of that revenue that would be withheld,” Finchem said.
“In a city that has seen wholesale abandonment of the police, they are so understaffed they cannot even respond to emergency calls, let alone non-emergency calls. If the city of Tucson wants to prevent people from defending themselves, and the city police department is unable to defend them, what is their objective?” Finchem asked rhetorically.
“If the city of Tucson, in their petty dictatorship, wants to interfere with the rights of Tucson residents—not on my watch,” Finchem added. “These people should be removed from office. They are violating people’s civil rights. That policy is a violation of people’s civil rights. I can’t state that more clearly.”
Charles Heller, co-founder of the Arizona Citizens Defense League, a pro-second Amendment advocacy group, said Tucson’s latest resolution reflects “over 30 years [that] Tucson has been thumbing its nose at state preemption.”
“It’s total virtue signaling,” Heller said. “First of all, it’s cowardly. Because if they’re so principled about the constitution, why don’t they pass a city ordinance? To paraphrase Shakespeare, this is a great sound and fury, signifying nothing, only the city’s virtue.”
While Arizona ranks 15th in the nation in gun mortality, Heller said that over 60 percent of reported deaths were suicides.
“To conflate that statistic with a crime statistic is inherently dishonest. There are no violent guns. There’s violence done with guns,” Heller said.