Following the school shooting last week in Connecticut, some Southern Arizona residents are calling for action to reduce gun violence.
President Barack Obama spoke to Newtown, Conn., residents this weekend about the shooting there, and Southern Arizona Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Tucson, said he was pleased with the remarks.
“In particular, I was very, very gratified for him to say this is enough, we've gone too far, we've reached a point of no return and something needs to be done, and I sincerely hope that we follow through on that commitment," Grijalva said in an interview on MSNBC.
Congress needs to change the nation's laws, he said, because so far there has been no action and continued shootings.
“I sincerely hope that Congress views this issue of gun safety and gun control with a much broader look," Grijalva said. "We’ve reached point of no return, to continue doing what we’ve doing is to continue to invite the tragedies we’ve seen time and time again including in my hometown."
Rep. Ron Barber, D-Tucson, also said legislative change is needed. He said he has introduced a bill to expand treatment for people with mental illness and wants to ban some weapons or accessories for everyone. That way, he said, they don't get into the wrong hands.
“I would like to see us reinstate the assault weapon ban we had in the mid '90s as well as prohibiting the distribution and sale of extended magazines and clips that can do this kind of carnage,” Barber said.
But Alan Korwin, director of gunlaws.com and a nationally recognized expert on gun laws, said new laws are not the answer to the questions people ask after mass shootings.
"There’s a difference between legislation and law enforcement," Korwin said. "It’s illegal to murder people. It’s illegal to steal firearms. It’s illegal for a criminal to have guns. And yet, people murder, and people steal firearms, and criminals have guns. What’s missing is law enforcement."
One prime example, Korwin said, is the Fast and Furious gun case. In that instance, people illegally bought guns and trafficked them to cartels in Mexico. There were already laws making that practice illegal, but Korwin said the Justice Department is not enforcing them.
"They got one-month sentences. One month," Korwin said. "They supplied guns to drug lords, 93 guns, and they got one-month sentences. The sentence is five years per gun, and they got one month per gun," he said. "How much more law do you need?"
Records show that one Fast and Furious defendant was sentenced in federal court in Phoenix last week to 57 months in prison in connection with illegal sale of two guns. Federal authorities say he was involved in illegal purchases of 52 guns. Another was sentenced earlier to four years and seven months in prison in relation to trafficking 27 illegally obtained guns.
Others in Southern Arizona are simply asking for a solution to gun violence. That list includes members of the group Mayors Against Illegal Guns, founded by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The group released 34 new videos today that feature people talking about how guns have impacted their lives.
Retired Col. Bill Badger, who was wounded in the Jan. 8, 2011 shooting in Tucson, is one of the victims who appears in a video.
"It’s been a year and a half since the shooting and nothing has been done. I want to see some action,” he says in a video filmed outside of the Safeway where he was shot. After being wounded, Badger helped capture and subdue the gunman.
Others who witnessed or were victims in that shooting also made videos at the site. Another Tucson shooting is included in the video campaign.
Lisa Kiser was in the College of Nursing classroom at the University of Arizona in October 2002 when a fellow classmate killed three teachers and then turned the gun on himself.
"And I want to know what my leaders are going to do about this," she says in the video she recorded for the group.
Korwin, the national gun law expert, said the timing of these conversations is wrong.
He criticized the media for highlighting these calls during times of national tragedy.
"Why does the media and the anti-rights crowd, or however you want to frame it, why do they only do it when they're dancing in the blood of victims?" Korwin said. "Why don't they ask these questions at a calm, measured time when we can look at these issues in a rational, reasonable way, instead of using these traumatized times to look at this?"