By BOB CHRISTIE, Feb 1, 2017
PHOENIX (AP) — The Arizona House on Wednesday approved legislation allowing city residents to shoot rats or snakes using small-caliber guns loaded with tiny pellets.
The proposed law would allow anyone to shoot the tiny shotgun shells inside city limits, even if they aren't trying to kill a snake.
The 35-25 vote fell along party lines, with Republicans in favor and Democrats opposed to Republican Rep. Jay Lawrence's proposal. There was no discussion.
The formal vote on House Bill 2022 came a day after the House debated the bill and GOP majority lawmakers gave it initial approval over Democrats' dissent.
The proposal amends a landmark 2000 law aimed at celebratory gunfire enacted following the 1999 death of a Phoenix teen struck by a stray bullet. It adds an exception from felony charges for using the ammunition called rat- or snake shot in .22-caliber guns.
Lawrence said Tuesday that his legislation isn't about shooting reptiles or rodents, despite the definitions in his bill referring to "rat or snake shot."
"This is not a kill-animals bill, it has nothing to do with killing snakes, it has nothing to do with killing rats, cats or dogs," Lawrence said. "This is a firearms bill, strictly and totally."
Democrats worried that people would unnecessarily shoot wildlife. Even worse, they worried about unrestrained shooting within city limits.
"Generally, I think those two do not mix too well and we could see an increase of injuries to people as a result of this bill," Democratic Rep. Kirsten Engel, of Tucson, said of the proposal relaxing the ban on shooting within city limits.
The 2000 law makes it a felony to fire a gun within city limits or within one mile of an occupied structure, with exceptions for self-defense or for dispatching a nuisance animal with a permit.