I went to Tucson last week to gauge, in photos, the community’s attempt to recover from the shooting rampage. The rhetoric coming from all political parties was already evolving into the steady drone of a buzzing pest that left me with the feeling of hearing it all but listening to nothing. But that’s okay because I’m familiar enough with covering these types of stories and familiar enough with the political discourse that follows.
On a assignment late in Spring of 2010 I tweeted how ridiculous I thought it was for Arizona to have in place virtually no restrictions on carrying a concealed firearm. Concealed. I wandered into the bar at my hotel at the time and laughed to myself at the sign posted right above the taps that read “Please leave your firearms outside” or something of that nature. In other words, don’t drink and shoot. Great. But as so many extreme gun advocates c
laim, the more citizens who carry firearms, the less crime will be committed by criminals. Really? Well, citizens with 45’s strapped to their hip sure didn’t seem to stop a clearly disturbed man from a shooting rampage on a sunny, Saturday morning at a local market. But there’s no point in blaming them. What needs to be in place are stricter laws that prohibit high capacity magazines (really, what use does a average citizen need with a clip that can hold 30 rounds?), more thorough background checks, and stricter certification procedures. In other words, stricter regulation.
Which brings me back to last week’s assignment. As I was making my way to the shooting scene on North Oracle Road I passed a large, yellow billboard announcing the big Gun Show at the fairgrounds the following weekend. I then noticed the same billboard in various other parts of the city. The next day on my way to the 9 yr old girl’s funeral killed by the crazed gunman, I drove the same route as the day before and decided to photograph the billboard. I found it sadly ironic that the route to a shooting victim’s funeral, as well as the actual shooting site, took me by a billboard touting a gun show. After shooting the photo (above), I went to put my gear in the car and happened to notice quite a few laminated cards that looked like ID’s or licenses laying discarded in the street. Looking closer I realized they were some sort of certification, complete with people’s names, grade, gun type, serial number, model and number of rounds. I don’t know if these were related to the military or law enforcement, but I certainly suspect they were since one card had Colt M4 listed as the gun. My understanding is that it’s a assault rifle commonly found in the military and in law enforcement.
There was no gun dealer in the vicinity and I was not next to a military base. This was disturbing. All I know is that a state where virtually any adult can tuck a gun in a waistband without any special training, and where certification cards for assault weapon training can be found laying in the street, needs to place tighter restrictions on their gun laws. It won’t be popular in Arizona, but doing what’s popular and what’s necessary aren’t always the same thing.