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Disgraceful: Arizona Lawmakers End Session Without Acting on Legislation to Disarm Domestic Abusers

May 26, 2020

Lawmakers Shelved Legislation to Disarm Domestic Abusers in February and Continued to Refuse to Take Action Even Amid a Rise in Domestic Violence in Arizona During COVID-19

For the Second Year in a Row, Arizona Lawmakers Refused to Take Action on Legislation to Keep Guns Out of the Hands of Domestic Abusers

The End of Session Comes Nearly One Week After a Shooting at the Glendale Westgate Entertainment District Where at Least Three People Were Shot and Wounded

PHOENIX – The Arizona chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, Everytown for Gun Safety’s volunteer networks, today released the following statement after lawmakers adjourned the 2020 legislative session without acting on bipartisan legislation to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, and failing to address the rise of domestic violence in Arizona amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Once again, Arizona lawmakers turned their backs on countless women who urgently needed them to take action,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “Since the pandemic began, we’ve seen story after story about the uptick of domestic violence. It’s shameful that lawmakers are willing to look the other way when lives are on the line. Come November, Arizonans will replace them by electing gun sense champions who will keep their families safe.”

“My sister would be alive today if it weren’t for her abuser’s easy access to a gun,” said Irene Diaz, a volunteer with the Arizona chapter of Moms Demand Action and a survivor fellow with the Everytown Survivor Network. “It’s shameful that lawmakers ended another legislative session without taking action to disarm domestic abusers. Arizonans deserve better – and we’ll vote for better leaders in November.”

“Our generation is fed up with lawmakers who continue to ignore our pleas for gun safety,” said Anvitha Doddipalli, a volunteer with Corona Del Sol High School Students Demand Action. “We’re not just standing by any longer. Last month, we launched a virtual field office in Arizona to get out the vote in November, and we’re going all-in to elect gun sense champions who will stand by our side and fight to keep us safe.”

Earlier this year, a bipartisan group of Arizona lawmakers led by Republican Senator Kate Brophy McGee and Democratic Representatives Jennifer Longdon and Daniel Hernandez introduced SB 1165 and HB 2543, legislation to disarm domestic abusers. Instead of moving this life-saving bill forward, Republicans in the legislature prioritized and tried to push through risky legislation that would jeopardize the safety of Arizonans, such as a policy to arm teachers and other school employees and a bill that would have created new liability for public entities that choose to prohibit firearms — both of which were ultimately defeated. 

In February, Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund launched a digital ad campaign calling on state lawmakers to pass common-sense gun laws, including a bill that would close the gaps that give domestic abusers easier access to guns. The digital campaign announcement was part of Everytown’s first digital ad campaign pressuring state legislators to take action on gun safety in 2020. And in May, Everytown announced “Gun Sense Majority: Arizona” — a significant financial and grassroots effort dedicated to electing gun sense candidates up and down the ballot. Students Demand Action also launched Arizona’s new Students Demand Action Virtual Field Office in April, an office focused on registering young voters virtually.

Here’s more on why disarming domestic abusers is critical in Arizona: 

  • Domestic violence and gun violence are inextricably linked. Every month, an average of 53 women are shot and killed by an intimate partner in the United States. Nearly 1 million women alive today have reported being shot or shot at by intimate partners, and 4.5 million women have reported being threatened with a gun. 
  • Between 2012 and 2016, the rate of intimate partner gun homicide in Arizona was 66 percent higher than the national average. And amid COVID-19 closures, concerns for domestic violence among families in isolation continue to grow. According to the Phoenix Police Department, 3,587 calls were dispatched in March 2020, which is 200 more compared to March 2019. And in the first week of April, there was a 15 percent increase in domestic violence calls compared to last year. 
  • Arizona gun laws are among the weakest in the country, with no legal requirements for background checks on unlicensed gun sales, and Arizona experiences high rates of domestic violence gun homicide. But to date, the legislature in Arizona has refused to take action to reduce gun violence, even when more than 1,000 Arizonans are shot and killed every year. 
  • Arizonans overwhelmingly support domestic violence legislation. Polling found that Arizonans overwhelmingly support stronger gun laws by an 8:1 margin – including a bill to disarm domestic abusers.

More information about domestic violence legislation available here. Statistics about gun violence in Arizona are available here, and information on how Arizona’s gun laws compare to other states’ overall is available here.

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