- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 17, 2016

PHOENIX (AP) - A House committee dominated by Republicans advanced a bill Wednesday barring any government agency in Arizona from enforcing new federal firearms laws or regulations.

The prohibitions in House Bill 2300 were crafted by gun-right advocates who believe the federal government is poised to enact rules that violate the Second Amendment. “I think it’s important that we protect Arizona gun owners to make sure the state doesn’t cooperate with unlawful federal actions,” said Michael Gibbs with the Arizona 10th Amendment Center.

Rep. Randy Friese, D-Tucson, unsuccessfully argued that courts are the proper body to determine if federal laws are legal and a blanket ban on enforcing new federal rules or laws negates that power. “The legislature undertakes its actions, and then it’s the judiciary that decides if it’s constitutional or not,” Friese said.

But Gibbs said that’s not the issue. “It just says we’re not going to use state resources to enforce - the feds are on their own,” he said.

The bill contains a strong provision designed to make sure local law enforcement doesn’t ignore it. It would bar state payments to cities and towns that don’t follow the enforcement ban and impose civil and criminal penalties on violators.

Two other gun bills also advanced on party-line votes Wednesday, and the House Judiciary Committee hearing heated up as it dragged on.

House Bill 2524 allows Arizona to agree with other states not to put new restrictions on firearms transfers. Friese argued that the compact locked Arizona into a 10-year deal barring any restrictions on gun transfers, even those that might be passed by voters.

“I see this bill at being aimed at preventing the voters from having a voice,” he said.

Rep. Eddie Farnsworth, R-Gilbert, sparred with Friese over that.

“I absolutely disagree,” Farnsworth said. “I see this bill as protecting Second Amendment rights.”

The hearing really heated up when the committee began hearing testimony on House Bill 2338, which bars schools or universities from banning gun owners from carrying concealed weapons in their vehicles on public roads going through school property.

Students from Arizona State University and the University of Arizona testified that they were concerned the bill would make their schools less safe, or at least make students uncomfortable. Farnsworth pushed back, noting that the bill doesn’t overrule campus policies banning guns in buildings or other state laws.

“This is the boogie man - this is the gun boogie man that we continue to hear,” he said. “I guarantee you the ones that are going to kill you aren’t the ones who are worried about a misdemeanor for carrying a gun.”

A larger bill that would have banned colleges and universities from adopting policies banning guns on campuses altogether has failed to receive a House committee hearing this year, putting its future in doubt. House Bill 2072 would overrule policies adopted by most community colleges and the Arizona Board of Regents banning guns on campus.

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