Officials talk guns, hold buybacks after shootings
The national gun debate swelled Tuesday as Arizona and the country commemorated the shooting rampage in Tucson, Ariz., two years ago that killed six people and left Rep. Gabrielle Giffords injured — an anniversary that came on the heels of the mass killing at a Connecticut elementary school. Here's how some state and local leaders are taking action:
ARIZONA — Giffords and her husband on Tuesday launched a political action committee aimed at curbing gun violence, while two politicians on opposite ends of the gun debate held dueling weapons buybacks outside a Tucson police station.
In Maricopa County, Sheriff Joe Arpaio has said he plans to post armed volunteers on school perimeters to protect Phoenix-area students.
His plan, announced last month, came after two other Arizona officials released ideas for boosting school security: Attorney General Tom Horne proposed firearms training for one person in each school, and Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu proposed training multiple educators per school to carry guns.
NEW YORK — Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he will make gun control a major part of his State of the State address on Wednesday, in which he will set his 2013 legislative agenda. He insists on a new ban on assault rifles, which he said must close loopholes in state law, and a ban on high-capacity clips for ammunition.
Tense, closed-door talks among legislative leaders continue. Republicans also seek to crack down on illegal guns and want longer court-ordered mental health treatment for individuals who won't seek help, but are deemed to be a safety threat.
ILLINOIS — The state's attorney general on Tuesday asked a federal appeals court to review a lawsuit challenging the state's ban on concealed carry in an effort to salvage the only law in the nation that makes the practice entirely illegal.
Last month, a three-judge panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the Illinois ban as unconstitutional and gave lawmakers 180 days to write a law legalizing it. Attorney General Lisa Madigan is asking that all 10 judges on the court rehear the case.
CONNECTICUT — U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal announced Tuesday he plans to introduce federal legislation that would require instant background checks for purchasers of ammunition.
It is now illegal to sell firearms and ammunition to certain groups, including felons and the mentally ill. But background checks, Blumenthal said, are required only for the sale of firearms, not the bullets.
WASHINGTON — Seattle police and political leaders on Tuesday announced a new gun buyback program in which people can anonymously turn in their weapons for a shopping gift card worth up to $200.
Amazon.com, which has been expanding its Seattle headquarters, kicked in $30,000 in Amazon gift cards for the program — $100 for each handgun, rifle or shotgun turned in, and $200 for each gun classified as an assault weapon under state law.
Other donors also pitched in for a total of more than $100,000, the mayor's office said.
UTAH — A Spring City councilman wants all residents in the small town to be armed against possible aggressors.
Councilman Neil Sorensen says he's drafting a measure that would recommend that a gun be in every household in the town of 1,000, about 90 miles south of Salt Lake City. The measure will go before the full council in February.
The City Council already has approved funding to offer concealed firearms training to the 20 teachers and administrators at the local elementary school this week.
COLORADO — Following last summer's Aurora theater shooting, a vigorous debate on gun control is expected during the 2013 lawmaking session that starts Wednesday.
Democrats now control both chambers of the Legislature so Colorado could see a flurry of measures to curb access to firearms — including a possible assault-weapons ban.
"I want to find a way to eliminate assault weapons, but I'm still trying to figure out how to do that," said Senate President John Morse, a former police chief.
VERMONT — The Burlington City Council is supporting a proposed ban on assault rifles and multiple ammunition clips in the city.
The resolution passed the council on a 10-3 vote Monday night. It would need to go before a committee, eventually be voted on by the public and then be sent to the Legislature before it could be approved.
Elsewhere, organizers of an annual gun show in Barre say they'll allow the showing and sale of assault weapons despite a request by the city's mayor that the weapons not be displayed in the aftermath of the Connecticut shooting. The two-day gun show is set to begin Feb. 9.
RHODE ISLAND — Providence Mayor Angel Taveras wants to hold a statewide gun buyback event.
Taveras, a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, also is talking with other mayors in the Ocean State about legislative proposals to strengthen state gun laws.
NEBRASKA — A Lincoln city councilman wants police officers assigned to more schools.
School resource officers already are assigned to each public high school. Councilman Gene Carroll wants the city and school district to consider adding them to middle schools.
CALIFORNIA — A one-day gun buyback program in Los Angeles brought in 2,037 firearms.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's office said the weapons collected Dec. 26 included 901 handguns, 698 rifles, 363 shotguns and 75 assault weapons. The buyback is usually held in May but was moved up in response to the Connecticut shooting.
In San Diego, gun owners traded more than 350 weapons for grocery vouchers Dec. 21 as authorities vowed to step up firearms exchanges.