by David Safier
The question is still out there: How many non-right-wing votes does it take for a Republican to qualify as a moderate? Or, to put it another way, how many right-wing votes does it take for a Republican to lose any semblance of "moderate" cred?
Take Rep. Ethan Orr, who wants to appear moderate enough to appeal to swing voters in LD-9 (which stretches from mid-Tucson through the Foothills to Avra Valley) so he can retain his seat in November. On the one hand, he voted with Brewer to support Medicaid expansion and has taken a few other votes that break with many of his Republican colleagues. On the other hand, his was the deciding vote that moved the voter suppression repeal bill out of the Judiciary Committee, a bill that short circuits a voter referendum which amassed 146,000 signatures to make it on the ballot. If the bill passes, it takes away voters' right to weigh in on voter suppression. Later, the lege can thumb its nose at the citizenry and vote the suppression measures right back in bit by bit, making them referendum-proof.
Now Orr has earned a merit badge or two to bolster his 92% NRA approval rating.
Orr voted with his Republican colleagues to get HB2339 out of the Judiciary Committee. It would allow someone to carry a gun pretty much anywhere except in places with security personnel, metal detectors and safe storage for weapons. Because, according to the "guns anywhere, any time" crowd, we don't have nearly enough guns in nearly enough places in Arizona.
Orr also voted for HB2338. This bill adds a new item to the list of actions classified as aggravated assault. If anyone other than a peace officer "attempts to exercise control over . . . a person's firearm that is lawfully possessed by the person in accordance with federal and state law," that will be considered aggravated assault.
I only bring an English teacher's skills to my reading of legislation. I'm not a student of the law. But the new addition to the aggravated assault law seems pretty clear to this layman. In my reading, if someone like Jared Lee Loughner purchased a gun legally and brandished it in public, with menace and madness flashing in his eyes, no one other than a peace officer could touch him without ending up in court on an aggravated assault charge. Ethan Orr, whose district includes the Safeway where Loughner brandished and used his weapon January 8, 2011, voted for the measure.