Mayors Against Illegal Guns (composed of over 550 bi-partisan American Mayors) is crossing the country with a National Drive to Fix Gun Checks, building support for critical gun reforms and raising awareness of the 34 Americans who are murdered with guns every day.
Tucson’s rally was held today at Jacome Plaza (in front of Joel D. Valdez Main Library) to support the Fix Gun Checks Act of 2011, which will “help get the records of prohibited buyers into the national database, and close the loopholes that let dangerous people buy guns.”
Victims of the Tucson shooting and other tragedies, numerous politicians, and community leaders spoke today calling on U.S. Congress to fix the background check system. Hundreds of people were in attendance at Jacome Plaza, and t-shirts stating “34 Americans are murdered with guns every day” were given out to those who signed the petition.
Ward 3 City Councilmember Karin Uhlich was the MC of today’s rally, saying she spoke with the support of Councilmembers Regina Romero (present), Paul Cunningham and Steve Kozachik (both not present). Uhlich said that “Tucsonans were standing together so that the suffering of January 8, 2011 will not be in vain, and to promote reasonable measures to safeguard the public.”
List of those who spoke at the Tucson rally:
–Patricia Maisch, citizen heroine on January 8, 2011 who stopped shooting suspect Jared Loughner from reloading
–Dr. Peter Rhee, Chief of Trauma, University Medical Center, who helped the January 8, 2011 shooting victims in the emergency room and thereafter
–Randy Gardner, Jan 8, 2011 shooting survivor
–Ross Zimmerman, father of Jan. 8, 2011 murdered victim Congressional aide Gabe Zimmerman (who also spoke for Gabe’s fiancee Kelly O’Brien)
–Dr. Ann Nichols, widow of State Senator Andy Nichols, whose father was killed by a gunman (when Andy was 4 years old)
–Tony Baccerra, gun shooting survivor, accompanied by his mother & sister
–Carol Gaxiola, Homicide Survivors Executive Director, whose 14 year old daughter was killed by a gunman
–Omar Samaha, whose sister Reema Samaha was one of those students killed at Virginia Tech on April 16, 2007
–Vicky Walker, mother Pat Yuhas and sister Kristy Johnson – Vicky’s husband and daughter were killed in their car by a gunman
–former U.S.Senator Dennis Deconcini
–former Assistant Attorney General Vince Rabago, a gun owner & hunter
–former Attorney General Terry Goddard (with the support of former Attorney General Grant Woods)
–former Mayor Tom Volgy (with the support of former Mayor George Miller)
–Tucson Police Dept. Assistant Chief Brett Klein (for Police Chief Robert Villasenor)
–Pima County Sheriff Captain Byron Gwaltney (for Sheriff Clarence Dupnik), who was on duty on January 8, 2011
–Santa Cruz Sheriff Tony Estrada
–Rev. Jan Flaaten, Arizona Ecumenical Council
–Rev. David Wilkinson, St. Francis in the Foothills United Methodist Church
Also in attendance was Registered Nurse Nancy Bowman, who rendered CPR and first aid to shooting victims Judge John Roll, Congressional aide Pam Simon, and Suzi Hileman on January 8, 2011 at the NW Safeway.
Most of the speakers agreed with Vince Rabago’s statement that “those who shouldn’t have guns shouldn’t have guns”. And most asked that there be background checks for those who are mentally ill, convicted felons, drug abusers, and at gun shows. Ross Zimmerman asked for “responsible behavior regarding gun ownership” stating that his son’s death “changed our community forever.”
Parked behind the speakers was the Fix Guns Checks national truck with a sign on the side stating “Americans murdered with guns since Tucson”. When the rally began the tally number on the truck was 2687, when the rally ended a hour/half later, the number had increased to 2689.
The National Drive to Fix Gun Checks kicked off in the wake of the Tucson shooting with one simple message: “We need to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people.”
Since then, more than a quarter million Americans have signed the petition to Fix Gun Checks, and President Barack Obama has made fixing background checks a national priority, calling for reforms that would make the system instant, accurate and comprehensive.
The Fix Gun Checks Act of 2011 has been introduced in the U.S. Senate and will soon be introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.
To sign the National Petition to Fix Gun Checks, go to www.fixgunchecks.org.
Blogger Hugh Holub has written extensively on this issue and announced this event about federal legislation for background checks on guns:
Photos of today’s rally to be posted by me (separately), courtesy of Curtis Dutiel: