Arizona gun violence survivors, members of the Arizona chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, gun violence prevention advocates and elected officials joined Governor Jan Brewer for the ceremonial signing of the life-saving Fatal Gaps bill today, and lauded Arizona’s changing tide in support of sensible gun laws. The bill, which Everytown and Moms Demand Action worked to pass with overwhelming, bipartisan support from the legislature, will help enforce Arizona’s current law and keep guns out of dangerous hands by requiring that Arizona report records to the national gun background check system for all people who are prohibited under federal law from owning guns due to severe mental illness. Today’s ceremonial signing comes months after Governor Brewer vetoed HB 2339 and HB 2517, two dangerous gun bills that would have become law without her veto.
Statements from Participants at Today’s Signing
“Governor Brewer’s signing of the bipartisan Fatal Gaps Bill is a victory for Arizonans’ public safety—and a clear indication that sensible gun laws are something everyone can get behind, regardless of political party,” said former Avondale Mayor and current Maricopa County Supervisor Marie Lopez Rogers. “I applaud Governor Brewer and Arizona’s legislators for enacting this common-sense reform because it will help Arizona’s law enforcement prevent dangerous people from getting their hands on guns—simply by better enforcing our existing law.”
“Strengthening our mental health reporting system will prevent dangerously mentally ill people from getting their hands on guns and I’m glad Governor Brewer signed this bill that will help make sure Arizonans are safer,” said Caren Teves, whose son Alex was murdered at the 2012 Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting that claimed the lives of 12 people and injured 58. “I know that with stronger mental health reporting in Arizona, we can save lives and help prevent tragedies similar to the one that took my son Alex’s life. That’s something all of us—parents, teachers, gun owners, Republicans and Democrats—can agree on.”
“The tide is turning in Arizona when it comes to support for sensible gun laws—with Governor Brewer’s veto of two dangerous gun bills this year and with the bipartisan support for this important law that will keep guns out of the hands of people with severe mental illnesses,” said Mary Berg from the Arizona State Chapter of Moms Demand Action. “Enacting this important law was another victory for moms, parents and Arizona communities across the state.”
Information on Arizona’s Fatal Gaps Bill and Mental Health Reporting Nationwide
The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, signed into law on November 30, 1993, requires that individuals pass a background check before purchasing a firearm from a federally licensed dealer. Once a purchaser receives approval from the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), the sale can proceed – a process that typically takes 90 seconds or less.
Since its inception in 1998, NICS has stopped more than 2.2 million gun sales to felons, domestic abusers, the severely mentally ill, and other dangerous people prohibited from having guns. But the background check system is only as good as the records that are submitted to it. If these records are not submitted by states, it can leave gaps in the system, and people like the shooter who killed 32 people at Virginia Tech in 2007—a man who was prohibited from buying guns due to mental illness, but whose record was never reported to NICS—can walk into a gun store, pass a background check, and buy a gun.
HB 2322, Arizona’s Fatal Gaps Bill, which Everytown and Moms Demand Action worked to pass, will help close these fatal gaps in the system and keep guns out of dangerous hands by requiring that Arizona submit records of individuals who are prohibited from owning guns under federal law due to severe mental illness to NICS, ensuring they cannot pass a background check and buy a gun. With HB 2322, Arizona joins at least 17 other states that have enacted new record-sharing statutes or have amended existing law in significant ways to improve mental health record reporting.