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Tragedy gives reason to reflect on gun control laws

Staff Editorial

The issue: Liberal gun control laws in Arizona endanger the public’s safety.

Our stance: Lawmakers must reevaluate state gun control laws.

Graphic by Ben Jackson '11

The shooting at a Tucson Safeway Saturday, Jan. 18 was a wake up call for state lawmakers.

Six people were killed and a total of 13 people were injured in the attack, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who remains in stable condition as of The Roundup print deadline of Feb. 22, and is currently recovering from a gunshot to the head.

Not only was the shooting tragic and devastating, but it was also a much needed wake-up call that Arizona gun control laws are simply too lax and need to be adjusted.

Currently, the state constitution reads: “The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself or the State shall not be impaired.”

However, it has come to a point where gun control laws are so liberal that citizens can freely bear arms and tragedies, like the one in Tucson, can occur.

As of June 2010, Arizona does not require permits to purchase guns, registration of firearms or the licensing of owners of shotguns, rifles and handguns, according to National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action.

But it is unlawful for vendors to sell to “prohibited possessors,” which are only persons recognized as felons or unstable by the courts.

Buyers of firearms at recognized gun shops undergo a computerized federal background check, which compares them to a national database of disqualified possessors in minutes.

But at gun shows and expositions around the state, federal background checks are bypassed, as exposed in a recent sting at a Phoenix gun show by undercover New York City investigators.

Members of the sting were able to purchase handguns with extended magazines, like those used in the Tucson shooting, even after they told the sellers that they probably couldn’t pass a background check, according to a statement issued by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg who organized the three-state sting.

Without background checks, the little gun control structure that Arizona has falls apart.

But we don’t need Mayor Bloomberg, New York or any of the other states who were a part of the sting to lecture to our state about gun control problems.

By even looking solely at the numbers, we should come to an educated conclusion that the lack of gun control in our state is a public danger.

According to a recent Arizona Republic article, Arizona now has three cities in the top four for licenses “specifically involving the manufacturing of firearms.” Tucson, the site of the January shooting, was first on the list.

In Arizona from 1999-2007, there were more than 3,000 murders committed with guns, which translates to six gun murders per 100,000 state residents. The national rate for such incidents during the same time period was four to every 100,000.

Arizona’s total gun-death rate in that period was about 16 per 100,000, which goes well beyond the national average of 10.

It’s true that some of this increase in gun murders can be attributed to the violence of the drug war that flows across the border into Arizona, but the guns that perpetuate the violence are bought right here in the Valley.

In the wake of the shooting rampage in Tucson, law enforcement agents arrested 20 people suspected of illegally funneling AK-47s and other firearms purchased from U.S. stores to Mexican drug-trafficking cartels across the border, according to MSNBC.

When Arizona legislators tried to require private sellers at gun shows to inquire about the immigration status of gun buyers in an amendment to a gun bill last year, the entire bill was killed.

Arizona needs legislation that requires sellers to screen buyers at gun shows.

Perhaps a majority of local gun stores do follow state guidelines, but it only takes one gun bought from a gun show or unlawful store to murder many.

Granted, not everyone who carries a gun is dangerous, but a lack of background checks at gun shows leaves the public vulnerable to tragedies like the one on Jan. 18.

We must also recognize that Arizona has been a member of the United States of America for 99 years.

In becoming part of that union nearly a hundred years ago, the state agreed that when federal laws conflict with state laws, federal legislation supersedes state legislation as “the Supreme Law of the Land.”

With the federally-illegal sales of semi-automatic handguns and extended ammunition clips, like those used in the Tucson shooting, allowed in the state, the people of Arizona have forgotten that they are part of the greatest country in the world, and not part of their own nation.

The people of Arizona must also realize the dangers of handgun concealment and the presence of guns at state universities and in government buildings, which is a part of legislation being pushed through the state legislature right now, according to the Arizona Republic.

Considering everything above, is making gun laws more lenient really the best move?

We do not have all answers, but the people charged with making our laws need to examine this issue not with partisan politics in mind, but our safety.

Staff editorial by Eric Villanueva ’11, Ian Beck ’12, Michael Mandeville ’11, Rohan Andresen ’12 and Alex Stanley ’12

Staff editorials represent the view of The Roundup. Share your thoughts by e-mailing or leave comments online at

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