Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) has signed into law legislation that designates gun stores as essential businesses allowed to remain open during an emergency—a move that will further protect gun stores, manufacturers, and trade associations from lawsuits.
The new law, Senate Bill 1382, introduced by Republican Sen. Wendy Rogers, applies to any store selling guns or ammunition, or their components, and mirrors federal law that was passed on a bipartisan basis.
Ducey’s office said in a release that the measure will protect the Second Amendment rights of Arizonans by “safeguarding against frivolous lawsuits that have no connection to unlawful use of firearms.”
“With efforts currently underway in Washington to erode Second Amendment rights, Arizona is taking action to protect those rights,” Ducey said in a statement. “In Arizona, we’re safeguarding manufacturers, sellers, and trade associations.”
“Bad actors need to be held accountable, and we will work to make sure they are,” the Republican governor added. “But we’re not going to allow lawsuit after lawsuit to slowly tear down the Constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens in our state.”
The bill bans the state and its entities from suing a member of the firearms industry for lawful design, marketing, distribution, and sale of firearms and ammunition to the public. It also prohibits a manufacturer or seller of a firearm or ammunition or related trade association from being sued for damages resulting from the criminal misuse of the firearm or ammunition.
Rep. Rogers previously said of the measure that the right to keep and bear arms must be protected, especially during emergencies.
Democratic Sen. Martin Quezada argued the Legislature has much bigger priorities during the pandemic, such as ensuring people get access to unemployment insurance and don’t lose their homes.
“Arizona is—and will remain—a strong 2nd Amendment state,” said Judi White of Tucson, a gun rights champion who has long been active in the National Rifle Association. “We can’t let flippant lawsuits hinder operations of firearm or ammunition manufacturers, sellers, and trade associations that are following the law. Senate Bill 1382 makes sure of that.”
White added, “Thank you, Governor Ducey, for signing legislation that protects citizens’ Constitutional rights.”
The new law comes as President Joe Biden and Democrats in Congress in recent weeks have issued a series of gun-control proposals, while the House of Representatives passed two gun background check laws.
In his first address to a joint session of Congress on the eve of his 100th day in office, Biden also called for background checks and a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.