Tucson City Council Votes to Support Law Calling for Stricter Background Checks On Potential Gun Owners
The Tucson City Council voted unanimously last night to support the federal Fix Gun Checks Act of 2012 after hearing testimony from survivors of the January 2011 Tucson shootings.
"Based on the testimony from them, based on what's happened in the last couple of weeks in Milwaukee and Aurora, and just the history we have, we truly need to examine how we can reduce the ability for folks, who may be unstable, to have weapons put in their hands," Councilman Paul Cunningham tells New Times. "I don't want to infringe on anybody's rights, but at the same time, we have to be very realistic about what's going on here."
The Fix Gun Checks Act is a congressional bill that calls for increased scrutiny of background checks for gun owners. The measure would mandate that the names of people who are banned from buying guns be entered into a national database. It also would require that anyone looking to purchase a gun get a background check, according to Fixgunchecks.org.
Jared Loughner -- the man responsible for the Tucson tragedy, which left six people dead and 13 injured, including former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords -- may have been prohibited from legally purchasing a gun had background checks been mandated. He pleaded guilty yesterday to 19 felony charges and will spend the rest of his life in prison.
In light of Loughner's recent plea, last week's temple shooting in Wisconsin, and last month's movie theater shooting in Colorado, there seems to be a stronger push to reform certain gun-control laws.
In fact, a poll conducted by known conservative analyst Frank Luntz in late July shows that even current and former NRA members support better background checks for perspective gun purchasers. The poll of 945 gun owners found that 74 percent of them -- formerly or currently affiliated with the NRA -- support better background screening for potential buyers.
"I don't think there are any easy and quick answers," Cunningham says. "I don't think we're going to move the ball down the field anytime soon. I think that first we've got to get everyone at the table."
Cunningham says he was fired up by last night's meeting testimony and will begin to formulate an agenda on responsible gun-control reform. He said the agenda could include a push for limits on local Tucson gun shows, statewide reform on private gun sales, better classification on intended uses for weapons, and limits on guns with high rounds of ammunition.
"I don't want to be some hardcore, lefty, gun-control freak. That's not who I am. But seriously, we've got to do something," Cunningham says. "Virginia Tech, Columbine; it happens once every year. Obviously what we doing [isn't] working. Let's figure it out.
Here's a video of Tucson shooting survivors calling for President Obama and Mitt Romney to make a meaningful gun-control reform plan:
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Phoenix New Times' biggest stories.