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Editorial: No checks on private gun sales shifts little

Background checks on private gun sales. They have been an integral part of the national discussion on gun control each time the issue surfaces.

Not in Arizona, at least not much anymore, should SB1122 receive final approval and Gov. Doug Ducey signs it.

State legislators this week approved the bill, which would bar local governments from requiring background checks before individuals sell property to one another.

That’s part of the rub; the other part is proponents insist the legislation is not about guns.

SB1122 received preliminary House approval on a voice vote April 17. It spells out that no government can require that the seller of personal property search federal or state databases before transferring private property.

Some lawmakers put forward that those in the majority — Republicans, saying it has nothing to do with guns; in fact, the word “guns” is not in the bill — are not being serious or, at a minimum, they are being dishonest.

“No one is talking about background checks for refrigerator sales or microwave sales or dining room furniture sales or kitchen table sales or carpet sales or doorway sales or door jamb sales or door knob sales or door key sales,” said Rep. Randall Friese, D-Tucson.

The bill would clear all private transactions, which also do not have to be handled through a third party. Federal law mandates background checks when a licensed firearm dealer sells a weapon. But there is an exemption for person-to-person sales.

Arizona is the Wild West, where gun owners can open carry and concealed carry. At the root of the debate are people who oppose the Second Amendment and believe gun shows and private sales are where criminals get their weapons.

Not always so. Plenty of the high-profile cases have involved weapons purchased legally by or for the perpetrator.

People who would do harm, even criminals, will still get their weapons. The logic behind SB1122 says that regular residents should not be hampered by further regulation — the background checks.

Certainly, as some lawmakers said, those private, legal transfers are not the government’s business.

And, gun owners still need to be responsible, keeping their weapons locked up. At a minimum, they also can require a bill of sale, checking the driver’s license of the buyer — in case the weapon is later used in a crime, they will then know who they sold it to.

While several states have enacted their own mandates, there is no requirement for background checks in Arizona law. That, for now, will remain so.

This puts the responsibility where it should be.

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