Gun Control Debate Continues Two Years After Tucson Shooting

Categories: Guns

Keith Perfetti
Giffords' husband Mark Kelly speaks during the one-year anniversary of the Tucson shooting.
Where were you when you heard about the Tucson shooting that claimed six lives and wounded 14, including former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords? I remember being at my in-laws' house in North Phoenix still decompressing from the holidays. When the news broke, I was glued to the television and radio for at least the next 24 hours.

There are events that happen that will always remind you where you were, how you felt, and who you were with. For most in Arizona, Jared Lee Loughner's shooting rampage outside a Tucson Safeway on January 8, 2011, is likely one of those days.

See Also:

- Tucson Shooting anniversary slideshow from January 7, 2012
- Photos from the January 8th, 2012, shooting anniversary including Giffords and husband Mark Kelly.
- The Anti-Gun Culture: Irresponsible, Phobia-Driven and Just Plain Wrong on the Facts
- Tucson Artist Jackson Boelts on Watercolor, Jared Loughner, and Tucson's Future
- Artist Kyle Webster on Jared Loughner, Mental Health, and Illustrating This Week's Cover Story

Two years and multiple shooting massacres later, the country is finally starting to move toward some kind of action to prevent mass murder by gun-wielding maniacs. It took long enough.

In the past two years, there have been at least seven mass shootings that have captured the national attention in addition to the Tucson tragedy: 12 people killed in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater; six dead in a Seattle cafe; seven dead at a Minneapolis printing company; seven dead at a Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin; seven dead at an Oakland Korean Christian college; eight dead in a Seal Beach, California, hair salon; and finally, 26 dead in Newtown, Connecticut, including 20 children.

After these types of tragedies, the debate over gun control inevitably arises and the usual suspects emerge to argue over the causes and solutions to gun violence. But how do you debate with the irrational -- on both sides?

In Arizona after the Tuscon Tragedy, Governor Jan Brewer's answer was to cut funding to mental health services and and the state legislature moved to loosen gun laws. After the Newtown tragedy, the gun-worshipping NRA says we need to have armed guards in our schools, essentially turning them into mini prisons. Sheriff Joe Arpaio has of course jumped on this bandwagon and sent his "Posse" out to unspecified Maricopa County schools.

Our own staff writers, Ray Stern and Stephen Lemons, delved into the debate following the Tucson shooting.

Why is the NRA and its advocates' answer to gun violence always more guns? Won't that just escalate the violence? Why are gun advocates so fearful? Why are we still even having this debate?

There are a lot of questions that will never really be answered while we continue to argue ideological differences. But hopefully this country can stop simply fighting over the causes and solutions to gun violence and take real action to prevent it from happening again.

No rational person is arguing that the government should take away the right of lawful, stable, and responsible citizens to own a firearm, but we need to be able to better identify who is actually lawful, stable, and responsible. What firearms and types of ammunition we can lawfully purchase should also be reviewed.

Not just anyone can drive a tractor trailer truck without a proper license, and those were designed to haul consumer goods around the country, not kill people.

As Gabrielle Giffords and Mark Kelly note in a op-ed published today by USA Today, 30,000 Americans are killed by gun violence each year.

"Weapons designed for the battlefield have a home in our streets," write Kelly and Giffords. "Criminals and the mentally ill can easily purchase guns by avoiding background checks. Firearm accessories designed for killing at a high rate are legal and widely available. And gun owners are less responsible for the misuse of their weapons than they are for their automobiles."

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"Why is the NRA and its advocates' answer to gun violence always more guns?"

It's not just the NRA and its advocates'.  When an armed murderer are reported armed people with more guns are dispatched to neutralize the murderer.  The real question is "How can more good armed people be stationed and equipped closer to places where armed criminals might attack?"  Is is far easier to arm the many good people out there than it is to disarm the bad people who can be very motivated in acquiring weapons.  Nearly all gun regulation tries to make it harder for everybody to purchase, store and carry a firearm.  Good people will nearly always obey gun regulations and if gun regulations are too difficult they will simply not purchase, not store and not carry a firearm.  Bad people care little for the letter of the law and when gun regulations are too difficult they will evade gun regulations.  The best plan is to not rely on regulations to protect us.  Banks don't rely on laws to prevent bank robbery.  Why should anybody rely on ink on paper when they can take advantage of a tool for self-defense?

"Why are gun advocates so fearful?"  Of what?


According to Mother Jones, a very liberal news organizaiton, more than 65% of the mass murders committed over the past 30 years were committed by individuals with diagnosed or suspected serious mental illness including all 7 of the 7 mass murders committed in 2011 & 2012 (mass murder defined as 4 or more killed in a single shooting). 

While I am not a gun owner and have never owned any guns, it makes me uncomfortable to think that we are establishing laws restricing the behavior of healthy, law abiding people in response to conduct committed by a handful of seriously mentally ill people.  It seems like our time and money may be better spent trying to identify, reach out to and provide resources for mentally ill individuals (including restoring insttitutional services cut during the Reagan administration and never restored) than trying to restrict the way that healthy (non-mentally ill) individuals can entertain themselves. 


@Thane.Eichenauer You ignore the reality that most guns used in mass murders are obtained legally.  The link to Mother Jones' story below shows that most of the mass murders were committed by people who did obtain their guns legally.  There is room for an improvement in the screening processes for the purchase of guns, but that is a small component in a complex problem.  The other consistent theme is mental illness.  Addressing gun access without addressing access to mental health services in this country is inconsequential.

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