Tucson City Council advances gun background check resolution: Voice your opinion at Feb 5 meeting (video)


Gun-buttonby Pamela Powers Hannley

During today's study session, Tucson's City Council voted unanimously to advance a resolution which would require background checks on every gun purchase that occurs on city-owned or city-managed property. The resolution further states that there will be "no permits for gun shows on City owned or managed property until the provisions of the above are enacted." 

City attornies said that since this is a resolution and not an ordinance it does not conflict with state law.

Today's vote paves the way for a council vote on the resolution on February 20, but citizens can use the February 5 (tonight) City Council meeting call to the audience to voice their opinions on this matter. Here is the link to the proposal brought forward by Council members Steve Kozachik and Karin Uhlich. More background and a video of local leaders talking about gun control after the jump.

Since the Sandy Hook massacre, Kozachik has been a vocal proponent for gun reform. He suffered immense criticism from fellow Republicans for talking about the need for sensible gun control reforms and for spearheading a gun buy-back program earlier this month. In fact, the Republicans' over-the-top negative response to his actions were a factor in Kozachik's high-profile defection from the Republican Party a few weeks ago. Some background from Kozachik's CNN Op-Ed…

In defiance of Newton's law that every action has an equal and opposite reaction, any discussion of legitimate controls on the use, handling and sale of firearms routinely yields an explosive overreaction of opposition. I learned that firsthand when I organized a voluntary gun buyback program for January 8 in Tucson, Arizona.

It was the tipping point for me to change my party affiliation from Republican to Democratic.

On January 8 in 2011, a seriously deranged young man murdered six people, including a 9-year-old girl, and wounded 13, including Rep. Gabby Giffords, during a 45-second shooting rampage in Tucson. He was finally subdued when he stopped to change clips in his semiautomatic weapon, after firing 31 rounds.

In the immediate aftermath, our community came together as one in our grieving over the deaths and in our resolve to do what we could to prevent a repeat of the tragedy.

But the irrational fears of the gun lobby succeeded in shouting down the debate, and in the intervening two years not a single piece of meaningful legislation has been adopted that would even begin to solve the problem.

I was the target of some of that violent overreaction in the two weeks leading up to the buyback. Thinly veiled threats were leveled at me. I was referred to as "Hitler." The response made it clear the event I was planning hit a nerve among a group who evidently believe the proper disposal of a firearm is tantamount to the desecration of a holy icon.

Guns are not fetish objects. The buyback was simply an offer to people who were uncomfortable with having a weapon in their homes to trade those weapons into the Tucson Police Department in exchange for a $50 grocery gift card. More than $10,000 in gift cards were distributed during the event.

The money I used to buy those cards was donated in just under two weeks by Tucson residents, who still cling to the hope we will re-engage on the topic of rational gun control. They showed that the loud voices are not going to shout down the discussion this time around.

But on the periphery of my buyback, and on the periphery of rational discourse, was a group of gun and NRA enthusiasts holding a "cash for guns" firearms flea market. They held it on the boundary of the police department parking lot in which my buyback was taking place.

In Arizona, it is legal for a person to walk up to another on a street corner, hand him cash for a firearm and simply walk off with it, with no need for a background check into his psychological or criminal history. That was exactly what happened with those who came to my buyback to "score some deals" on weapons by outbidding the gift cards I was offering.

I was a Republican at the time, but less than one week after the buyback, I chose to switch parties. I believe there is a centrist element among the rank and file in the GOP, but the leadership is led by the far right and openly beholden to the NRA and the gun lobby. It is that rigid ideology that is driving the party into irrelevancy. The overreaction to the gun buyback made it clear that, in Tucson at least, the Republican Party is out of touch with the values of the community. [Emphasis added. Go here for the rest of the story.]

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