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Another disgusted GOP member switches parties

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  • VanHalen
    started a topic Another disgusted GOP member switches parties

    Another disgusted GOP member switches parties

    Editor's note: Steve Kozachik is vice mayor and a member of the Tucson City Council.

    (CNN) -- In defiance of Newton's law that every action has an equal and opposite reaction, any discussion of legitimate controls on the use, handling and sale of firearms routinely yields an explosive overreaction of opposition. I learned that firsthand when I organized a voluntary gun buyback program for January 8 in Tucson, Arizona.

    It was the tipping point for me to change my party affiliation from Republican to Democratic.

    On January 8 in 2011, a seriously deranged young man murdered six people, including a 9-year-old girl, and wounded 13, including Rep. Gabby Giffords, during a 45-second shooting rampage in Tucson. He was finally subdued when he stopped to change clips in his semiautomatic weapon, after firing 31 rounds.

    In the immediate aftermath, our community came together as one in our grieving over the deaths and in our resolve to do what we could to prevent a repeat of the tragedy.

    But the irrational fears of the gun lobby succeeded in shouting down the debate, and in the intervening two years not a single piece of meaningful legislation has been adopted that would even begin to solve the problem.

    I was the target of some of that violent overreaction in the two weeks leading up to the buyback. Thinly veiled threats were leveled at me. I was referred to as "Hitler." The response made it clear the event I was planning hit a nerve among a group who evidently believe the proper disposal of a firearm is tantamount to the desecration of a holy icon.

    Guns are not fetish objects. The buyback was simply an offer to people who were uncomfortable with having a weapon in their homes to trade those weapons into the Tucson Police Department in exchange for a $50 grocery gift card. More than $10,000 in gift cards were distributed during the event 

    The money I used to buy those cards was donated in just under two weeks by Tucson residents, who still cling to the hope we will re-engage on the topic of rational gun control. They showed that the loud voices are not going to shout down the discussion this time around.

    But on the periphery of my buyback, and on the periphery of rational discourse, was a group of gun and NRA enthusiasts holding a "cash for guns" firearms flea market. They held it on the boundary of the police department parking lot in which my buyback was taking place.

    In Arizona, it is legal for a person to walk up to another on a street corner, hand him cash for a firearm and simply walk off with it, with no need for a background check into his psychological or criminal history. That was exactly what happened with those who came to my buyback to "score some deals" on weapons by outbidding the gift cards I was offering.

    I was a Republican at the time, but less than one week after the buyback, I chose to switch parties. I believe there is a centrist element among the rank and file in the GOP, but the leadership is led by the far right and openly beholden to the NRA and the gun lobby. It is that rigid ideology that is driving the party into irrelevancy. The overreaction to the gun buyback made it clear that, in Tucson at least, the Republican Party is out of touch with the values of the community.

    The cash for guns event clearly highlighted that anyone, a criminal or someone who is mentally ill, can immediately buy a gun with no questions asked in Tucson. It's obvious that public safety demands that background checks be incorporated somehow in private, person-to-person purchases of guns.

    That really is low-hanging fruit in the regulation of weapons sales. Legislators have got to stand up to the gun lobbyists who resist even this minimal change in the law and adopt it -- federally and immediately.

    Consider if the Tucson shooter had needed to change clips after just five rounds had been fired, or even 10. The carnage of the day would have been significantly decreased. Lives would have been saved. The size of gun magazines is also low-hanging fruit in this conversation.

    So is the need to stop selling armor-piercing ammunition on the open market. Unless the goal is to kill a police officer, certainly rational people can agree that restrictions on the manufacture and sale of this sort of ammunition is in order.

    Over the past three years, the Arizona Legislature, with a Republican supermajority, has adopted statutes that have been offensive to Latinos, women and youth. I have openly resisted those bills, and after the recent elections in which those three demographic groups rejected the Republican brand, I had hoped things would change, and that the party leadership would resist the continuing lurch to the far right.

    But even after 20 schoolchildren were killed in Newtown, leaders of the GOP have shown no inclination to resist the gun lobbyists who fund campaigns, but who come empty-handed when asked to craft reasonable gun legislation.

    Until the Republican Party hemorrhages more and more centrists, leaders will not wake up to the damage they're doing to themselves and the party. The debate over rational gun control legislation is an opportunity for them to engage in a productive manner to make this nation safer.

  • mauser
    Philter: Nothing false about it. The truth just hurts.

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  • mauser
    Savoldi: spending us into an ever deepening hole, monetizing the debt, restricting liberty, cutting out any opposition from the mix.....the parties are the same where it really matters. What differences that do exist are minor and are played to appear larger than they really are.

    If you like the two party paradigm, good for you. You're part of the problem.

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  • Reverse Entropy

    I applaud that he has ditched the GOP due to their extremism. Though I chose to be independent, I don't fault his choice in leaving for another party.

    What I do fault is his cognitive inability to follow logical thought and implement it.

    Though the gun buyback may have had good intentions, it was flawed in its construction, and thus led to exploitation by people who were opportunists and who soaked the buyback for profit. It would have been trivial to set it up to avoid that problem - but in this case it was either not thought out in logical detail, or it was arranged to appear as a positive step, and its flaws were not considered important.

    Lastly, the glaring and common factor in all of these massacres is they were committed by people who were overtly and obviously raving lunatics.

    People may say that firearms are treated as 'sacred' by their proponents; unfortunately the seriously deranged persons who committed these crimes are handled as 'unmentionable.'

    It's easy to be afraid of guns, fear requires little or no thought. It's much harder to talk about how to prevent the violently insane from getting access to guns - that requires we actually deal with the problem of mentally ill people being dumped onto their families or even into the public with little treatment.

    We MUST start working on the massacre problem from the mental health end. Until we do so, massacres will continue. All of these massacres could have been done with cowboy weapons from 1895 (this is relatively easy to demonstrate).

    I happen to believe the clerk who sold Jared Loughtner should have stopped that sale in mid-transaction. He was bound by the text on the Form 4473 to stop a sale if he THINKS it may be used in a crime, or THINKS the person has been found mentally incompetent. Many people were overtly frightened by Loughtner's everyday behavior for quite a while. I find it extremely unlikely he wasn't obviously mad that day.

    James Holmes should have been picked up by the campus police for mental health evaluation after his doctor informed them he was in a dangerous mental state. Colorado law would have blocked sales to him and his firearms would have been confiscated.

    Adam Lanza was in the care of a mother ill-equipped to handle his mental needs. He had access to firearms that should have been locked up in a way he could never get to them (a combination lock that doesn't have the numbers written down, for a start).

    Stopping an insane person from a violent crime requires ACTION and not PASSIVITY. Until we take an active role in blocking the insane from obtaining a gun, this will continue.


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  • mauser

    So he switched from one side of the coin to the other.


    I applaud his boldness.

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