Gun safety advocates to Sen. Jeff Flake: No exceptions, background checks for all gun buyers
Reporter: Craig Smith
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and husband Mark Kelly recently launched "Americans for Responsible Solutions and started airing a television commercial in Arizona today.
The organization aims to prevent gun violence and achieve sensible gun policies while protecting Second Amendment rights.
The ads single out Arizona's U.S. Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake. They urge them to use their seats on the Senate Judiciary Committee to allow a law for universal background checks to be cleared by the committee for a vote of the full senate.
Tuesday, In Tucson January 8th mass shooting victims and other gun control advocates held a news conference outside Senator Flake's office, and delivered a large stack of letters urging him to support universal background checks.
Senator Flake did not meet with the group. He was still in Washington.
January 8th, when Jared Lee Loughner stopped to reload, retired Army Colonel Bill Badger was able to help get the gun out of Loughner's hands.
Now he's part of a collection of groups working to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill like Loughner.
Senator Jeff Flake's is a key vote on a Senate committee considering tougher background checks so the activists brought his Tucson office a large stack of letters urging universal background checks for gun purchases.
That would require everyone buying a gun to be checked for criminal history or mental health history that would bar them from buying a gun.
Right now person to person sales and many sales at gun shows do not require any check.
Sarah Jacobson was one of the demonstrators, KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith asked her: "What do you say to the persons on the other side of this argument, who say, look, we're concerned that some of our rights will be infringed?"
She said, "My feeling is, the safety and the well being of all of us, all the citizens of the US take priority over individuals having rights to purchase guns without background checks."
Gary Reilly was among the demonstrators. He says as a retired police officer gun violence drives him up a wall.
"I've seen how little or no regulation on firearms is just plain stupid. I carried a gun, like I said for three decades pretty much and if you're gonna carry a gun you have the proper mindset. It's not a piece of jewelry. It's not an add-on to your manhood."
Reilly describes the proper mindset as being keenly aware carrying a gun makes you able to take a life, and understanding the presence of a gun can escalate a simple argument into something deadly.
Ken Rineer of Gun Owners of Arizona says universal background checks are so impractical if he wanted to give his grandchildren his guns he'd have to ask a gun dealer with access to the background check system to background check them.
Craig Smith asked him: "The argument is that, it's way too easy for people who are impaired or dangerous in some fashion to get hold of a weapon. Is there a better way to keep that from happening?"
Rineer says, "Well I think what we need to do is tighten up the mental health records situation."
Rineer goes on to say, Congress set requirements to connect mental health records to the existing background check system, but did not set aside enough money to get more than a small fraction of the records in.
He says, "Those records are not getting into the database, the NICS database because Congress has not funded it except for the very first year. Arizona blew through its couple of hundred thousand dollars pretty quick and they didn't get anywhere near all the records into the system yet."
Senator Flake's office says he is not in favor of universal checks but is in favor of efforts to do a better job connecting mental health records to the system.