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.
- 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."