Arizona senator thinks mass shootings really aren’t the federal government’s problem

Appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) said in 2012 that all gun control is unconstitutional.

Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) claimed mass shootings aren't the federal government's problem.
Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) claimed mass shootings aren't the federal government's problem. (Photo by Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ), who was appointed to the late John McCain’s seat weeks after losing in the general election for the state’s other senate seat last November, suggested on Wednesday that the solution to curbing mass shootings should be found at the state or even local level. This comes after the NRA-funded Republican backed a federal law to overrule state’s concealed weapon licensing laws.

McSally appeared at district events in Bullhead City, Arizona, where she was reportedly asked by a constituent about what can be done to stop mass shootings. McSally answered that solutions must come not just from the federal government, but from state and even local lawmakers.

“I believe in states’ rights,” she said. “Most problems can be solved at the state and local level.”

McSally’s record on guns has been to oppose virtually every new gun control measure. She has earned an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association and has bragged about receiving their endorsements. She was one of the nation’s largest 2018 recipients of campaign contributions from gun-rights organizations, with more than $200,000 in gun money.


In her 2012 House race, McSally said at a primary debate that she believed any limits to gun sales would be unconstitutional. “Just like I can sell my car, I can sell my gun,” she claimed. “Any restrictions on that at gun shows or other places is [sic] just absolutely unconstitutional.”

While some issues can be effectively addressed locally and by states, the issue of guns has not proven to be one of them. States can pass laws requiring universal background checks for gun purchases, banning the sale of assault weapons, or restricting high-capacity magazines, but they have little to no impact when would-be shooters can simply drive to a neighboring jurisdiction with weaker laws and get the same weapons there. This has been a problem in states like California, where people have driven to Nevada for weapons, and cities like Chicago, which borders gun-friendly Indiana. Additionally, many pro-gun legislatures have passed laws to systematically preempt local governments from acting at all.

Moreover, McSally herself worked to undermine the states’ rights she claims to support. In 2017, she voted for H.R. 38, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act. The bill, which passed the House but stalled in the Senate, would have required that states with meaningful concealed weapon licensing requirements allow people licensed in other states with weaker concealed carry laws to carry concealed weapons when visiting.