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'Deal with it': Arizona lawmaker blocks gun safety bill from being heard

The proposed bill at the State House would require guns stored at home have a trigger lock device or be locked in a safe.

PEORIA, Ariz. — It takes just a few seconds for firearms safety instructor Brandon Loftin to access his handgun from a safe.

Loftin believes quick access is often just as important as accuracy.

"When it comes to a stressful situation, you have to practice for it to become a quick, muscle memory response,” Loftin said, standing in his Glendale office where he works as a firearms safety instructor.

A proposed bill at the State House would require guns stored at home to have a trigger lock device or be locked in a safe. Violation of the law would amount to a $1,000 fine. Opponents say the law is burdensome because it could make it more difficult to access a gun in an emergency. Supporters compare the law to seat belts, saying a small inconvenience is worth saving lives.

Several states have a similar law on the books, but it appears the bill won’t be up for debate anytime soon.

Arizona State House Representative Kevin Payne (R) of Peoria is chairman of the Military Affairs and Public Safety Committee. Payne told 12News Monday he will not give the bill a hearing.

“If someone needs to get to their weapon in an emergency, they don't need to be undoing locks,” Payne said.

Asked about concerns that teenagers or mentally ill individuals get access to unlocked guns, Payne was straightforward.

“If you have a situation like that, deal with it,” Payne said.

According to the gun safety advocacy group, Everytown, more than half of guns in the US are not properly locked and stored. Among gunfire incidents on school grounds, 80% of minors obtained the gun from home or an acquaintance’s house. 350 gun deaths each year involve children under 18 unintentionally firing a gun at themselves or someone else.

House Representative Jennifer Longdon (D), a gun violence survivor, is the bill’s sponsor. Longdong told 12News last month that the bill amounts to common sense.

Mechanical and biometric safes allow gun owners to access their firearms quickly, Loftin said. He added that most gun owners he knows do not want the government telling them how to store their firearms.

A Gilbert couple who lost their teenage son to an accidental shooting is behind the bill. In 2021 Christian Petillo was at a friend's house. He was accidentally shot and killed. The gun wasn't locked up. The bill is named after Christian.

"I believe this law we're looking at, Christian's law, does not infringe on anybody's second amendment rights,” said Clair Petillo, Christian’s mother.

The Petillos launched the website NoDoOvers.org, dedicated to promoting gun safety through legislation, technology and media.

Christian’s father says Rep. Payne’s comments will not deter them.

“We are not going away,” said Bruce Petillo.

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