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Shift In State Gun Control Laws Slow To Form In Aftermath Of Tucson Shooting

Ujin Kim |
January 25, 2011 | 9:44 a.m. PST

Staff Reporter

A gun store in Los Angeles. (Susan Shimotsu / Neon Tommy)
A gun store in Los Angeles. (Susan Shimotsu / Neon Tommy)

After the Virginia Tech shooting incident in 2007, it was not a surprise that there was a national call for increased gun control laws within the states. Yet, as an aftermath of the Tucson shooting, the public outcry sounded quite differently than it did in 2007. 

State gun control laws within some states such as Pennsylvania and New Jersey are very strict. However, California remains the most powerful player by upholding gun control with a score of 79 out of 100, based on the Brady Campaign scorecard. Intensive background checks and the quota of one handgun allowed to be purchased per month is standard protocol in California.

California remains a singluar power among its “weaker” gun- control enforcing neighbors on the West coast, specifically Arizona. On the Brady Campaign scorecard that represents individual states’ strengths in gun control policies, Arizona is ranked at 2 out of 100, which is even lower score than Virginia (ranked at 17). 

Ironically, the Tucson shooting incident resulted in a widespread desire not for the tightening of ropes for gun control legislation, but rather for its relaxation. Charles Franklin, a pollster at the University of Wisconsin, claims that gun support did experience “a blip after Virginia Tech or Columbine, but the long-term trend is still one that's fundamentally moving toward less support for gun control and more support for gun rights."  

This past Sunday, the U.S. Attorney for Arizona filed a request to hear the future hearings in its original location in Tucson rather than Phoenix. There has been talk of a possible venue change for the court case to San Diego, CA. Not only will this change affect victim’s family members accessibility to the court hearings, but also a potential less biased jury. The venue change and its implications are unknown, but California’s strict gun control attitude may affect the final verdict of the court case if it were to be true. 

Professor Tom Hayden of Pitzer College and former state senator has provided an alternative opinion on the matter. He commented on how “the gun debate should happen, but it is largely symbolic.” Yet, Hayden said that the issue at hand is not a gun control debate, but the “tremendous media pressure to reduce this case to an isolated and crazy individual. I see it on CNN and the New York Times. No doubt the shooter is crazy, but... the question is did he act alone... or how did he reach his decision?”

Hayden said a "hidden menace” of conservatives are trying to hide behind gun control debates and twist the shooting as an act of an insane man when his “radical” thoughts and actions were derived from the beliefs of their very own right-wing “Sovereign Citizen Movement.” 

Reach reporter Ujin Kim here.

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