Brewer adamant on AZ gun laws as videos show possible lax sales

NYC probe reveals ease of buying arms at Phoenix show
2011-02-01T00:00:00Z Brewer adamant on AZ gun laws as videos show possible lax salesHoward Fischer Capitol Media Services Arizona Daily Star
February 01, 2011 12:00 am  • 

PHOENIX - Gov. Jan Brewer is defending Arizona laws allowing the sale of firearms at gun shows without a background check and forbidding cities from imposing such requirements.

"We believe our laws are fair and just in the state of Arizona," the governor said Monday.

Her comments come on the heels of New York City Mayor Michael Bloom-berg's release of videos Monday taken by undercover agents at a Phoenix gun show just 15 days after the Tucson shootings.

Arizona private investigators hired by New York City were able to buy weapons not only without a background check but, at least twice, did so after admitting to sellers they probably would not pass a check.

Brewer said she had not seen the videos or Bloomberg's comments.

But the governor said the laws are "something that the Legislature and I decide."

Last year Brewer signed legislation making Arizona only the third state in the nation to let anyone carry a concealed weapon without a state permit, training and a background check. And Brewer said Monday she remains open to further liberalizing the state's gun laws.

"I am a strong proponent of the Second Amendment," she said.

One of the measures awaiting debate this session, SB 1201, would further expand where individuals can carry guns to include public buildings, unless there are metal detectors and lockers for owners to secure their weapons. Brewer said she hasn't studied that measure and would have to see the final version before deciding whether to sign it.

"We're strong people in Arizona," she said. "We believe in the Constitution, and we certainly support the Second Amendment."

Bloomberg is not looking to change Arizona law.

"He's looking for a federal fix," said spokesman Jason Post. That would supersede Arizona laws, he said.

It also would close what Bloomberg considers a loophole in federal laws.

While gun dealers must conduct background checks, federal laws do not require background checks for the person-to-person sale of weapons by individuals. But it does prohibit anyone from selling a gun to someone when there is "reasonable cause" to believe that person is not legally entitled to have one.

In two videos released by Bloomberg, a buyer at the Crossroads of the West gun show on Jan. 23 in Phoenix asked sellers if they were dealers and said, "I probably couldn't pass one (a background check)."

"I just need an ID and money," one seller responds.

"We have demonstrated how easy it is for anyone to buy a semiautomatic handgun and a high-capacity magazine, no questions asked," Bloomberg said in a prepared release. "Congress should act now."

If Congress doesn't act, Post said Bloomberg wants gun-show promoters themselves to mandate that merchants do background checks on prospective buyers.

New York officials previously staged similar investigations in Tennessee, Ohio and Nevada, and four of the seven promoters agreed to require checks, Bloomberg said in his statement.

Federal law allows states or cities to have more-restrictive laws on gun sales and possession. Arizona does not, and for the past 10 years has barred cities from imposing their own requirements. That change in the law was a response to a Tucson ordinance requiring checks at Tucson Convention Center gun shows, approved after a triple murder in 1999 at an east-side Pizza Hut.

No one from Crossroads of the West, the company that operated the Phoenix gun show and others in Tucson and elsewhere, would agree to be interviewed. Instead, the company issued a release saying law enforcement at all shows "is conducted on a regular basis."

The statement also said the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives "regularly has several undercover agents enforcing federal law at the Phoenix show, and state and local law enforcement agencies work cooperatively with the bureau and other agencies to ensure that activities at the show are legal." It also said sellers agreed to comply with federal gun laws.

The statement also criticized Bloomberg for conducting the undercover operation.

"These forays into America's heartland committing blatant acts to entrap otherwise innocent gun owners is an unlawful scheme that is created by Bloomberg's task force," the statement reads.

The company had a gun show in Tucson the week after the Jan. 8 shootings. Another Tucson show is planned for March 12 and 13 at the Pima County Fairgrounds.

On the net

To see the video, go to www.gunshowundercover.org/

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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