Gun control laws under fire
New report shows major gaps in gun check system
Reporter: Claire Doan
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) – The January 8 shootings no doubt revived the gun debate: How could gunman Jared Loughner be able to buy a glock? Is government doing enough – or too much – when it comes to the right to bear arms?
Loughner was able to pass several background checks to buy his guns, even after a drug-related arrest and suspension from Pima Community College for disturbing behavior.
The Tucson incident sparked the recent report by Mayors Against Illegal Guns called “Fatal Gaps: How Missing Records In the Federal Background Check System Put Guns in the Hands of Killers.”
Survivors from the Tucson shooting testified in a Senate hearing Tuesday advocating stricter gun laws.
The report released Tuesday details how numerous states and the federal government agencies fail to submit records to a national database, allowing the mentally ill and serious drug abusers – who are barred form purchasing guns – to get access to firearms.
Councilwoman Karin Uhlich said the Tucson tragedy is proof that America needs better background checks and stricter laws on automatic weapons and ammunition.
“We should all be concerned that the assailant walked into a Walmart on the morning of January 8th to buy those automatic weapon ammunition clips. That should be a concern to everybody,” Uhlich said.
However, Ken Rineer, the president of the Gun Owners of Arizona, said the Tucson tragedy should not shape the debate over gun control.
9 On Your Side asked Rineer how he responds to people who assert that stricter gun control laws could’ve prevented the January 8th or Virginia Tech shootings.
“It’s false. The argument falls flat on its face. The restrictive laws have actually hurt the safety of individual cities,” Rineer said, adding that according to statistics cities with more restrictive laws suffer from higher crimes. Furthermore, he believes the federal government needs to support states with the necessary funds, if it’s going not require them to submit records.
“The problem is there are so many old records that have yet to be digitized, converted and sent to the FBI database, but Congress hasn’t provided adequate funding for states to do that,” Rineer said.
Councilman Steve Kozachik believes there are conditions to every Constitutional amendment, even the right to bear arms. He said that he drew the line months ago with the majority of Council, by banning guns in the city’s parks – contradicting state law.
“Nobody in their right mind would say, ‘I’d like to have my 5-year-old kid carry a firearm into his or her kindergarten class. So we agree on the principle. It’s where do we draw the boundaries around the restraints,” Kozahick said.
In September, Arizona received $600,000 from the federal government to improve and submit records – both current and backlogged – to the national databank. However, the “Fatal Gap” report states that the effectiveness of the database is limited by the lack of participation and cooperation among different states and government agencies, which fail to report information.