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Legislation May Keep List Of AZ Gun Owners Secret

State lawmakers are poised to keep local police - and anyone else - from finding out who owns a gun. Arizona Public Radio's Howard Fischer reports.

Existing law already precludes police departments from maintaining databases of person-to-person gun sales. This legislation imposes an outright ban on maintaining any sort of list of who owns a firearm. Representative Eddie Farnsworth said the measure is justified. "Government encroaches," he said. "Government wants to know. Government gets in the middle of everything. And I think it's legitimate for us to say this is something that's none of your business. You have no right to that information. We have a right to own guns. And unless we're breaking the law, you have no right to that information."

Senator Chester Crandell had more practical concerns: Any time there's a list, it can become public. Crandell said, "I think that causes some concern with a lot who are concerned about their civil liberties of being able to be anonymous if they so choose to be that in what they own and what they don't own."

That's what happened in a New York City suburb where the local paper published the names and addresses of 33,000 area gun owners. But Senator Olivia Cajero Bedford said these decisions should be left to local law enforcement. "We have a responsibility to balance the rights of the individual to possess firearms and the rights of individuals to be free from gun violence," the Senator said.

A final Senate vote is needed to send the measure to the governor.