Arizona Gun Law: Shooting Reignites Gun Debate

By Minara El-Rahman on January 10, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

America's Gun Debate has reignited in the aftermath of the Arizona shooting that left 6 dead and 14 wounded, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Details of alleged shooter Jared Loughner mental state, and how he obtained the gun, have critics claiming the newest Arizona gun law is too lenient.

Gun owners in Arizona can carry their guns in cars and public places like restaurants. This lax Arizona gun law compelled Pima County Sheriff Clarence W. Dupnik to speak out and say that the law may have contributed to the Tucson tragedy:

"We're the Tombstone of the United States of America. I have never been a proponent of letting everybody in the state carry weapons wherever they are. That's almost where we are."

He said that a proposed law that would permit college students to carry concealed guns on campus illustrates just what a "ridiculous state" Arizona has become. In fact, guns are permitted everywhere except a business or doctor's office, according to the Washington Post. Arizona even allows guns inside the State Capitol and other public buildings.

On the opposite end, gun advocates claim that it is precisely because of situations such as the Tucson tragedy that citizens should have the right to bear arms. The shootings are "probably about a very sick individual and what should have been done for that person. But the weapons don't kill people; it's the individual that kills these people," is what Sen. Rand Paul (R., KY) told the Wall Street Journal.

Currently, an individual must be adjudicated as "mentally unstable" by a court in order to be banned from buying a gun, reports.

Jared Loughner walked into a Sportsman Warehouse and purchased a Glock 19 semiautomatic handgun with just a simple instant background check, the Washington Post reports.

While the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) includes things such as mental health records, it would only include such items for individuals that have been committed or found mentally unstable in court, according to the Los Angeles Times. Records of Jared Loughner being forced to leave Pima Community College until he received a mental health clearance would not have shown up on a federal background check.

While there will surely be more to be said about Arizona's gun laws, it remains to be seen if there will be any action on gun control on the federal level. It seems unlikely as Sen. Mike Lee (R., UT) told CNN: "I don't think we're going to legislate our way out of the risk associated with people who are insane or people who are bent on performing evil acts to kill another person."

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