A top Arizona House Democrat wants a special legislative session to be called to consider gun control measures in the wake of two mass shootings last weekend.
“Democrats will call for a special session so we can … put some solutions in place,” House Minority Leader Charlene Fernandez, D-Yuma, told 3TV/CBS 5 on Tuesday.
“It has to make a difference, if it’s not going to make a difference then why are we going to do it?” Fernandez said in reference to potential reforms.
Republican Gov. Doug Ducey would have to call the special session and work with Democrats, but doing so would be a tough sell with Republican majorities in both legislative chambers.
Democrats and some Republicans across the country, both at the federal and state levels, have called for reforms after shootings took place over the weekend in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, on Tuesday announced a plan to curb gun violence that includes a red-flag style measure.
Red flag gun control measures, also called an extreme risk protection orders (ERPO), allow a court to order an individual’s firearms to be seized if that individual is thought to be a threat. Some second Amendment experts and critics of similar laws have called into question due process rights protections in specific legislation, like with the red flag law passed in Colorado earlier this year.
Ducey in the past has supported similar red flag measures.
In 2018, he pushed for a Severe Threat Order of Protection (STOP) plan, which underwent Republican-backed changes but failed to get support from Democrats, which killed the measure. The STOP plan wasn’t reintroduced in the 2019 legislative session.
"We remain willing to work with legislators from both parties on this issue and are hopeful both sides can come together to advance commonsense policies that will make a meaningful impact," a Ducey spokesperson told 3TV/CBS 5.
Ducey has not yet indicated if he would call a special session.
The Arizona Criminal Justice Commission, which is made up of criminal justice officials across the state, said that $15 million in state and federal funding has gone toward improving criminal history recording for background checks in Arizona.
“I am extremely proud of the significant accomplishments that our state has made in improving our criminal history records and putting into place protections that will keep guns out of the hands of individuals with mental health issues,” ACJC Executive Director Andrew LeFevre said in a statement. “We will continue to work with the Governor, Legislature, and stakeholders to improve public safety by identifying solutions that will close gaps in our criminal justice systems.”
ACJC pointed to several pieces of legislation dating to 2014 that have helped to improve background check reporting in the state.
In 2014, House Bill 2322 required that all mental health adjudications be reported to the National Instant Criminal Background Check system (NICS). Senate Bill 1373, from 2015, allowed for local law enforcement to be notified in cases involving mental health adjudications.