Arizona is a state where for many the Second Amendment is near sacrosanct, where driving into the desert to fire guns is a common past-time, and where it recently became legal to carry guns into bars and to carry concealed weapons without a permit, says the Arizona Republic. The state’s love affair with guns came under new and intense scrutiny Saturday after a gunman began spraying bullets outside a Tucson supermarket, killing six people including a 9-year-old girl and a federal judge, and wounding 14 others, among them U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
Police said the gunman was a 22-year-old college dropout who was armed with a 9mm semi-automatic pistol and extended clips that allowed him to fire dozens of bullets without reloading. Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik called Arizona the “Tombstone of the United States of America” while assailing the state’s lax gun laws as a possible contributor to Saturday’s massacre. Tombstone had stricter gun laws than Arizona has today, said Bob Boze Bell, executive editor of “True West,” a magazine devoted to Old West history. Rep. Jack Harper said Dupnik was off-base for suggesting that Arizona’s gun laws played a role in Saturday’s massacre in Tucson. “The Giffords event was in Sheriff Dupnik’s jurisdiction and no law enforcement was present. Sheriff Dupnik should stop blaming others for his office’s lack of presence at the event,” Harper said.