A companion bill passed a Senate committee Wednesday after a sharp exchange between Shooter, the bill's co-sponsor, and a Democratic lawmaker who called the proposal a waste of time and questioned how it could be enforced.
Shooter defended the plan by saying, "The country is called the 'United States.' It's not called the 'federal government.' The states are sovereign."
Democratic Sen. Anna Tovar, the minority whip, laughed when she thought about the flurry of conservative bills, and singled out the gun proposal as a distraction.
"It would be non-enforceable, I would assume, because federal laws would supersede," she said. "This bill adds fuel to the fire. It scares people. It makes people nervous. And it doesn't tackle the issue. Not to mention it's a waste of taxpayer money,"
House Speaker Andy Tobin wouldn't say whether he'd back the bill.
"I don't know if it's unconstitutional," he said. "But I think at the end of the day it's probably worth having a conversation over a president that issues executive orders" affecting gun ownership.
Tobin's comment referenced a belief among gun rights opponents that President Barack Obama would use his authority to try to ban some weapons.
A series of executive orders Obama issued Jan. 16 did not seek to ban guns or ammunition. The president mainly addressed health care rules, school safety, gun tracing and background checks. Obama's proposals that would outlaw new assault rifle sales and limit the size of ammunition magazines require congressional action.
Thorpe also filed a bill that would require high school seniors to swear a constitutional oath before they could graduate, setting off a flurry of criticism that led him to back off and say he would make the oath voluntary.
"The whole purpose of that bill is not to get some standard of loyalty from an individual," Thorpe said. "It was really to hopefully encourage our high school students to take an active interest in what our Constitution is."
He addressed those who might see a contradiction in his actions, on one hand setting up a federal fight and on the other seeking to require that students swear allegiance to the federal government. Thorpe says those who perceive inconsistency misunderstand his thinking. He says he is a constitutionalist, who seeks to uphold its principles.
Thorpe, Seel and Rep. Steve Smith are also sponsoring the bill requiring hospitals to check the citizenship status of people seeking treatment. Smith also has sponsored a proposal that would require school districts to collect information on students' immigration status.
Smith said the hospital bill is intended only to count the number of illegal aliens seeking care.
"It doesn't deport. It doesn't deny care. It doesn't do anything other than put a number on the problem," Smith said.
Versions of both bills have been rejected the last two years.
Gallardo said he understands policy differences, but laws like Smith's just make him shake his head.
"If those bills start moving through the process, the Legislature is no longer focusing on school safety, on education, on Medicaid expansion, on the budget," he said. "We're now focused on these polarizing bills that do nothing but cause chaos."
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