How many kids must die before the Arizona Legislature takes up gun reform?

·4 min read
Arizona Sen. Kelly Townsend, pictured in 2019, blamed the Texas school shooting on an absence of God in society.
Arizona Sen. Kelly Townsend, pictured in 2019, blamed the Texas school shooting on an absence of God in society.

Several Republican legislators took to the Arizona Senate floor on Wednesday to lament the wholesale slaughter of a classroom full of Texas children and to explain the many reasons why those kids had to die.

Long story short: Blame abortion, transgender people and the removal of God from America's classrooms.

Absolutely not to blame for Wednesday’s massacre: The ready availability of high-powered assault-style weapons to any Tom, Dick or Dirty Harry who wants one.

Sens. Gray, Townsend were quick to blame

Sen. Rick Gray took to the floor to explain that God is absent in today’s anything-goes society.

“We’ve been teaching our children, ‘there is no God …’,” the Sun City Republican said. “All they’ve been taught is they’re animals. There are no absolutes.”

Sen. Kelly Townsend, R-Apache Junction, echoed Gray’s comments.

“When we don’t value life, when we celebrate abortion, when we don’t acknowledge science when it comes to gender, when it comes to who you are and what you want to be and you can just do whatever. When we bastardize childhood, what do you expect?

“What do we expect to happen? When you say there is no God, that we rose from science and evolution and God doesn’t exist, then remove what God is. God is love. That’s what God is supposed to be and when you remove love you replace it automatically with what, hate, and you see events like this.”

If we can't prevent shootings, can we cut the carnage?

What do I expect?

Well, I certainly expected better than yet another classroom full of children executed by a creeper with an assault rifle and a backpack full of 30-round magazines.

I expected God-fearing leaders who would embrace the horror of what happened in Uvalde, Texas, rather than the National Rifle Association.

I expected leaders who would at least consider tightening up some of Arizona’s lax gun laws.

Oh, I know and I readily concede the point that Republicans so eagerly make: We will never be able to end the kind of tragedy that struck deep in the broken heart of Texas.

But surely, we could cut down on the carnage, if only our leaders were not so busy touting their NRA ratings as they campaign for reelection.

I expected our state's political leaders of goodwill to be shaken by the events of Tuesday and to emerge from their respective political foxholes in search of common ground to at least try to minimize what is far too often blood-soaked­­­ ground.

Especially when that blood-soaked ground is an elementary school classroom.

Bills exist that could help; they're DOA

Instead, we got a few floor speeches that ignored the heavily armed elephant in the room: Too many high-powered guns too easily obtained by too many people we all know should never have access to them.

“We knew this was coming,” Senate Minority Leader Rebecca Rios, D-Phoenix, told her colleagues. “We knew this was inevitable.”

We did. And in a few days or weeks, it’ll happen again. And again.

So where are the bills to limit the size of magazines — the big ones that are the accessory of choice for mass shooters across the country?

Where are the red flag bills that would give parents and police the power to petition a judge to temporarily confiscate guns from people who pose a danger to themselves or others? Repubilcan Gov. Doug Ducey has proposed such a plan in past years, only to run up against a brick wall in the Legislature.

Where are the bills to strengthen background checks or to require the safe storage of guns? While neither of these would have prevented Tuesday’s tragedy, there are plenty of other times when they might have saved a life or two or 10.

When will the price become high enough that we will demand action. Will it require the death of my child? Of yours?

Maybe we should protect people, not guns

These bills to reform Arizona's gun laws do exist. Democrats have been proposing them for years, but as usual, they were dead on arrival at the Arizona Legislature this year.

In fact, the only gun bills I recall coming up for a vote thus far this year are bills to exempt used guns and ammunition from sales taxes, to allow guns on university campuses and to protect the firearms industry from banks and such that no longer want to do business with them.

What do we expect, Sen. Townsend?

How about leaders who are more interested in protecting people than guns?

Reach Roberts at laurie.roberts@arizonarepublic.com. Follow her on Twitter at @LaurieRoberts.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Arizona Senate blames Texas shooting on everything but guns