Arizona Senate passes bill to cement gun stores’ status as essential businesses

Lawmakers in Arizona are doing what they can to make sure the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms is protected — even amid a public crisis.

The Associated Press reports that the Republican-led Arizona state Senate has given its stamp of approval to a measure that marks gun stores as essential businesses. The designation helps protect stores that sell firearms and ammunition from being shut down during a state of emergency like the one brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Arizona GOP says yes

According to the AP, Republicans pushed the bill through the Arizona state Senate “in a 16-14 party-line vote on Wednesday.”

The measure is now headed to the state House for a vote.

First introduced by state Sen. Wendy Rogers (R) last month, Arizona Senate Bill 1382 stipulates that “no orders or restrictions can be placed” on the normal operation of stores that sell firearms or ammunition, even under a state of emergency in Arizona, according to the advocacy group Sportsmen’s Alliance.

The group’s associate director of state services, Jacob Hupp, praised the Senate’s passage of the bill.

“Law-abiding citizens have a guaranteed right to protect themselves and their family, and now in Arizona, thanks to Sen. Wendy Rogers’ legislation, those citizens can be sure they will have the ability to do so when it matters most,” Hupp said.

An important cause

Of course, state Democrats aren’t pleased with the measure, which they say distracts from bigger priorities amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as reports note. But what could be more pressing than protecting Americans’ constitutional rights?

Indeed, the outbreak of the coronavirus in the U.S. has made many state leaders feel as though they can enact any orders they’d like in the name of public health — but in America, that’s just not how things work. And while Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) had designated gun stores as essential businesses from the start of the pandemic, there’s no guarantee a future governor would adhere to the same line of thinking.

That’s why Republicans in Arizona are moving quickly to protect the Second Amendment there. According to Arizona Central, GOP members of the Arizona state legislature have already “submitted at least 18 bills related to firearms, weapons and concealed carry this session.”

It all comes on the heels of a pro-gun demonstration at the Arizona Capitol in Phoenix late last month, where gun owners including Sharon Estrada spoke out in support of the cause.

“I am single, I am a mom, I’m an educator, I’m a Latina — probably not the first person who comes to mind when you think of second amendment advocacy,” Estrada told the crowd, according to Arizona Central. “This was an opportunity for me to talk to other ladies about how important our right to protect ourselves and our family is and how dangerous it would be if that right was taken away and really, who would benefit from disarming us.”

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