Arizona bill allowing lethal force for property damage fails | national news

By BOB CHRISTIE – Associated Press

PHOENIX (AP) — The Arizona Senate on Monday rejected a bill sponsored by a Republican lawmaker that would have expanded state laws authorizing the use of deadly force to prevent someone from damaging property.

GOP Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita’s legislation failed after several Republicans joined Democrats in rejecting a major expansion of state laws that currently only allow lethal force to stop very serious crimes.

The Scottsdale legislator said her intent was to give business owners or their employees the right to defend their property from smash-and-grab thieves if the thief possessed a dangerous weapon. But critics of the Ugenti-Rita bill said the legislation was drafted so broadly that it would allow someone to be shot simply for scribbling graffiti on a wall while having something that could be considered a weapon.

Republican Senator Sonny Borrelli of Lake Havasu City said the bill went too far.

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“I can understand you using force to save your life, that of your friend, your family or another person. Any kind of reasonable force that I stand for, I will support,” Borrelli said. “But for… someone who damages property? You can replace property, you can’t replace life. I think this bill is a bit extreme.”

If the bill had passed, Arizona would have joined only Texas in allowing the use of lethal force when the person damaging the property was not directly threatening someone, according to a National Conference of State study. Legislatures.

Arizona already allows the use of deadly force to stop many crimes, including residential burglaries, rape, kidnapping, arson and manslaughter. But Ugenti-Rita’s proposal allows for the use of force to prevent criminal property damage, including amounts so small they would only result in a four-month prison sentence.

In a recent interview, Ugenti-Rita said the law’s origins included the May 2020 riot at Scottsdale Fashion Square where hundreds of people looted stores following the death of George Floyd and a series of armed robberies. in California and across the nation where gangs of people descended on retail stories.

“You should be able to defend your business like you defend your home,” she said.

A robbery took place on March 6 in Roseville, California, when a 10-man gang stormed a jewelry store and used sledgehammers to smash windows and seize merchandise. The men escaped.

The bill failed in the Republican-controlled Senate on a 12-17 vote. Ugenti-Rita changed her vote to no to allow the possibility of another vote, but with Borrelli and two other Republicans opposing, it seems unlikely that this will happen.

The vote came amid a heated floor session where passions ran high after a series of GOP-backed election bills failed, some after Ugenti-Rita joined another senator. Republican in opposition. She said she knew she was missing at least two votes out of the 16 needed for passage and asked that the vote be postponed. She was upset that it was put to a vote by GOP Senate Speaker Karen Fann.

“It’s fine if you don’t want to listen to this and make some kind of point, but I’m voting my conscience,” Ugenti-Rita said. “And that kind of bullying tactic doesn’t work with me.”

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