State House Votes to Further Criminalize Gun Theft

Mar 14, 2014

It’s already a crime to take someone’s gun from them. But, that did not stop the state House Thursday from making it a double crime. Arizona Public Radio’s Howard Fischer explains.

Rep. Brenda Barton says heightening gun-theft penalties is a preventative measure.

Theft of a firearm is punishable by a year in prison. The legislation approved by the House says if you take a gun from someone else it's aggravated assault which carries a presumptive two-and-a-half-year prison term. Rep. Brenda Barton said it’s a preventative measure.

“When we think about home invasions when you're trying to protect your home, and in the event that the perpetrator attempts to take away your weapon, it gives the police something else to use when they go through the judicial proceedings,” Barton said.

But, House Minority Leader Chad Campbell pointed out that, firearm-theft laws aside, burglary carries a three-and-a-half-year presumptive prison term, which he said should provide sufficient deterrent. And, he questioned Barton why a special penalty for a gun, versus, say, a knife or baseball bat.

“We're singling out a firearm because a firearm, of course, is a deadly weapon,” Barton said.

Campbell was not convinced.

“I bet many people in this state have a baseball bat by the side of their bed as a protection against a home invasion. They have all kinds of non-firearm-types of weapons to provide themselves with self defense. If we want to bring up home invasions for this bill, then this needs to be expanded well beyond firearms,” Campbell said.

The measure now goes to the Senate.