Posted 4:34 PM 3/6/2013 : Gun advocates respond to call for 'universal background checks'
TUCSON - While former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and other shooting victims called for tougher gun laws at the sight of the January 8th shootings Wednesday, some gun advocates argue tougher laws won't solve the problem of violence.
There are many gun ownership groups who say the background check system is already flawed and that trying to make it universal without fixing those problems is a big mistake.
"The only people it's really going to capture, so to speak, or harm or cause a burden on, is on law-abiding citizens like myself who doesn't want to become a felon overnight just because he decided to transfer a firearm to a co-worker or their son without going through the background check," said Ken Rineer, President of Gun Owners of Arizona.
Rineer said adding the issue of mental health into the mix, complicates things.
"The vast majority of mentally ill are not prone to criminal activity either or prone to violence, just like the vast majority of gun owners are not prone to violence ... it's a small percentage of people who are criminals," Rineer told News 4 Tucson.
However, Rineer admits that if a mental health requirement for gun ownership were to be enforced, people must be given due process.
"Then there must be a process also that they help restore their rights if they should become well," Rineer said, adding: "Not all mentally ill people are mentally ill to that degree their entire life."
Posted 3:42 PM 3/6/2013 : Giffords speaks on gun legislation
Former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords stood outside the Safeway where she was shot two years ago Wednesday urging Arizona senators to vote yes on gun violence legislation.
Reading from a prepared statement, Giffords said, "be bold, be courageous. Please support background checks. Thank you very much."
Giffords' husband Mark Kelly said this issue is not about the second amendment but rather public safety, "so it is clear that this legislation could do a very common sense thing to make it more difficult for criminals and the mentally ill to have access to a firearm." The couple began what's known as the Americans for Responsible Solutions.
The group asking Arizona Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake to vote yes on legislation that would require universal background checks on all gun purchases.
Randy Gardner who was wounded January 8th and is retired from the mental health profession said, "this is not a slippery slope. This is more a thoughtful walk across the level ground. If we do nothing we will continue to see these same types of tragic events played out in our communities across America."
Suzi Hileman, who was shot twice and took her 9-year-old neighbor Christina Taylor-Green, who was shot and killed, to the event, said, "I think it behooves us all to act. Not to just go home, node your head and say wasn't that touching but to actually do something."
And Ken Dorushka, who was also shot January 8th said, "all we're saying is lets' do this and make sure that we don't have those that are mentally incapacitated those that are convicted felons those that child molesters they shouldn't have the right to obtain weapons."
The senate judiciary committee is expected to vote on the gun legislation Thursday.
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