Recently Tucson City Councilman Steve Kozachik (R-Ward 6) announced that he was putting together a voluntary gun buyback program to be held at the Tucson Police Dept Midtown Substation on Tuesday, January 8. As you are no doubt aware, January 8 marks the second anniversary of the tragic shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and 18 others.
Kovachik has pulled together this modest trial gun buyback program with assistance from the Safeway Corp, which has donated $1,000 to this event, and the Tucson Police Department (TPD). The purpose of this program is to give persons who no longer want to own a gun an opportunity to dispose of that firearm, with the knowledge that it will be safely destroyed. In return, participants will be receive a $50 Safeway gift card. While I do not consider myself a particularly religious person, I admire Kovachik’s orchestrating this well conceived program that clearly resonates with the Biblical admonition to “beat our swords into plowshares”.
As of January 3 Kovachik had collected $7,000 in donations) for this program. Since he announced the buyback he has been the subject of non-stop harassment by Todd Rathner, a Tucsonan who is a gun lobbyist and an NRA national board member. Citing a state law that requires police departments to sell seized weapons to any authorized business, Rathner claims that the TPD cannot legally destroy the guns turned in at the buyback. Tucson City Attorney Mike Rankin disagrees and contends that TPD can legally destroy the guns. NRA lobbyist Rathner’s response: “If they destroy them they will be in violation of state law…(and) we will see them in the courtroom or we will change the law and have them sanctioned financially…If we can pass the legislation faster, we’ll pass a law that says we’ll charge the city of Tucson and the Police Department some exorbitant amount of money for every firearm they destroy.” I don’t know how you feel about this, but I am totally fed up with NRA’s bullying tactics – they have definitely hit a new low with this one!
Adding insult to injury, according to a January 5 Daily Star front page article, on the day of the buyback former Republican State Senator Frank Antenori and “a few others” will be setting up shop outside the midtown Police Station. They will be offering gun owners “cold, hard cash” for desirable guns, as well as for ammunition. Granted, Antenori claims that any guns he buys will be added to his own private collection, but what assurances do we have that his cronies will follow suit?
To be blunt, Antenori is engaging in blatant grandstanding to mock the city’s modest voluntary trial gun buyback program. His goal is to undermine the buyback while scoring mega-points with the NRA. In response, Kovachik correctly states that if Antenori goes forward with his plan, he will simply be underscoring Arizona’s current problem with the private gun sales loophole.
Shame on Antenori for engaging in political grandstanding at a time when the rest of our city will be mourning the tragic shooting of January 8,2010 – a massacre that took the lives of six innocent citizens! But then, I guess the massive donations he will undoubtedly receive from the NRA for his next election bid will make it all worthwhile.