MESA — Gov. Doug Ducey is doubling down on his push for a law to let judges take guns from some people considered “dangerous” even though it was that provision that halted his entire school safety plan earlier this year.
“I think the STOP plan — the Severe Threat Order of Protection — is the crown jewel of our safe schools plan,” the governor said Wednesday. It would set up a procedure to allow not just police but family members and others to seek a court order to have law enforcement take an individual’s weapons while he or she is locked up for up to 21 days for a mental evaluation.
“It’s the one tool that could have eliminated the mass shootings that have happened in other places in the country,” Ducey said.
Senate Republicans approved the proposal earlier this year, but only after removing the provision to allow family members, guidance counselors and school administrators to refer to courts people they consider dangerous to themselves or others.
But even with that change it didn’t get out of the House, with Rep. Eddie Farnsworth, R-Gilbert, refusing to even give the measure a hearing in the Judiciary Committee which he chairs. Farnsworth questioned whether there’s an acceptable way of doing this.
“We’re not talking about just taking people’s guns,” Farnsworth said at the time. “We’re talking about incarcerating them for the purpose of a psychological evaluation against their will, potentially infringing on their First Amendment rights, and infringing heavily upon their Second Amendment rights.”
It’s not just Farnsworth who objects. While the National Rifle Association was willing to go along with at least the watered-down version approved by the Senate, it still did not pass muster with the Arizona Citizens Defense League.
“The whole idea of a STOP order is ridiculous on its face,” said spokesman Charles Heller. “If you’re crazy enough to do a mass killing, you’re crazy enough to ignore a STOP order.”
And Heller, who said his organization takes a “no compromise” position on gun rights, dismissed the premise that such a court order would stop someone from getting or possessing a gun in the first place.
“On what planet?” he asked.
Ducey, however, said Wednesday he remains convinced that this idea, part of a broader package designed around school safety, is crucial to achieving the goal.
The governor’s push comes the day after he was the only major gubernatorial candidate who did not attend a forum put on by March for Our Lives Arizona. The group, formed by students in the wake of the shooting at a Parkland, Florida, high school, wanted to hear how each proposed to deal with school safety.
Ducey said Wednesday that there was a good reason he didn’t attend the forum.
“I get invited to a lot of events,” he said. “It’s a shame I can’t make them all.”