Arizona Tragedy Sparks Debate

Local Coalition Speaks Out

In an attack in Tucson, Arizona, that left six people dead and 14 others injured, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) survived a gunshot to the head. Advocates on both sides of gun rights issues have input on the implications of this event.

Toni Wellen, cofounder and chair of the local, grassroots Coalition Against Gun Violence asserted, “You cannot peacefully assemble with firearms. If we want to call ourselves a civilized society, we shouldn’t be going around with firearms. It’s like living in the wild west.”

She contends that Arizona, a state with some of the loosest gun restrictions in the nation, “was bound to have an attack like this happen since you can carry guns anywhere.”

In January 2010, Arizona eliminated the requirement that gun owners must have permits in order to carry a concealed weapon.

While Jared Lee Loughner is the man to blame for the attack, Wellen maintains that the “unspoken villain is the gun.”

John Velleco, a spokesperson for Gun Owners of America opined, “It is unfortunate that the shooting was almost immediately used as a platform to attack the First and Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans.”

Velleco contends that neither “gun laws nor political rhetoric were the cause of the massacre in Tucson. Contrary to the opinion of most in the mainstream media, there is no evidence that Jared Loughner was a ‘right-wing’ product of the Tea Party who hung on Sarah Palin’s every tweet.”

Ultimately, Velleco places responsibility and blame on the individual and not the tool: “We know from sad experience that people with criminal intent will continue to plan and carry out violent acts.”

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