On Jan. 8, Tucsonans will reflect on the mass shooting that occurred two years ago at a local Safeway shopping center where a gunman opened fired into a crowd that had gathered for a congressional event hosted by then-Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
Six were killed and 13 injured, including Giffords, who suffered a bullet wound to the head.
In those two years of recouping, the local community has watched other cities and towns fall victim to similar assaults, such as in Aurora, Colo., where a gunman unloaded into a capacity crowd at a movie theater, or more recently, in Newtown, Conn., where the gunman forcibly entered a school, shooting and killing 20 children and six staff members.
The copycat-like manner in which these mass shootings are occurring has communities making demands of elected officials – though without a single, uniform solution recommended.
Some Democrats, such as Rev. Jesse Jackson, are calling for a ban on certain firearms and increased restrictions on gun buying.
Many Republicans, though hesitant to wholeheartedly support the National Rifle Association’s call for armed guards in all schools, do not think tighter restrictions or bans on assault weapons are a fail-proof solution.
“We had an armed guard in Columbine, we had an assault ban. Neither one of them worked,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, who recently appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Still, the NRA stands by its statement of introducing armed guards into schools, and has voiced its concern that President Barack Obama’s administration intends to take away citizens’ Second Amendment rights.
“The NRA is not going to let people lose the Second Amendment in this country, which is supported by the overwhelming majority of the American people,” said NRA Vice President Wayne LaPierre.
LaPierre also dismissed the notion that a ban on high capacity magazines and assault weapons would prevent shootings such as those that occurred in Tucson, Aurora, and Newtown.
Mark Kelly, husband to the still-recovering Giffords, was among the first to voice his displeasure with the NRA’s position, which was announced about a week after the Newtown shooting.
“Gabby and I are extremely disappointed by the NRA’s defiant and delayed response to the massacre of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School,” Kelly said in a statement. “The NRA could have chosen to be a voice for the vast majority of its own members who want common-sense, reasonable safeguards on deadly firearms, but instead it chose to defend extreme pro-gun positions that aren’t even popular among the law-abiding gun owners it represents.”
District 2 Congressman Ron Barber, one of those injured in the Jan. 8 shooting in Tucson, recently weighed in on the matter, stressing the importance of addressing mental health issues in conjunction with tighter gun laws.
“We must not wait any longer to address this crisis,” he said. “But, we must also recognize that these issues are not the only pieces in a complex problem to which there is no single answer. Untreated serious mental illness and access to weapons with heavy firepower are the underlying causes in a number of these violent incidents.”
With the number of varying opinions of the nation’s lawmakers, some gun owners, out of fear of a complete ban, are stocking up on weapons and ammunition.
Local and national gun and ammunition shops, as a result, are struggling to keep ammunition in stock.
The controversial nature of the issue is expected to manifest this week at the Pima County Fairgrounds, where the Crossroads Gun Show takes place on Jan. 5-6, and where gun supporters, as well as protestors, are expected to be in high attendance.
Following the Newtown shootings, President Obama appointed Vice President Joe Biden to lead reform efforts.