TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Two dueling gun events played out in the hometown of former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords on the second anniversary of her shooting, illustrating the sharp divide between gun reform advocates and Second Amendment stalwarts.
Tucson City Councilman Steve Kozachik staged a gun buyback Tuesday in the parking lot of the Police Department, offering $50 grocery store gift cards to anyone who surrendered firearms to be destroyed.
Just a few hundred feet away, GOP state Sen. Frank Antenori held an event where a dozen people offered cash for guns to be added to their own collections.
Police said Wednesday they took in 206 guns at Kozachik's event after noting the names of people who surrendered weapons, checking serial numbers to be sure the guns weren't stolen, and making certain the weapons were owned and purchased legally.
Antenori, who lost his re-election bid in November, said he organized his event — which became an unregulated but legal marketplace for gun sales — because offering gift cards for weapons amounted to stealing.
"Can you name me one firearm in working condition that's worth $50 or less?" he said.
Kozachik, also a Republican, said the gathering of men holding signs reading "Cash for Guns" bolstered his argument that gun laws need to be reformed.
"We have a fundamental hole in the private sales of guns. You can walk up right in front of a cop and buy a gun, no background check, nothing," Kozachik said. "How much more flawed can the system be?"
Antenori left the event early, and the gun-buyers refused to comment.
Giffords was severely injured in a Jan. 8, 2011, shooting rampage as she met with constituents outside a supermarket. Six people were killed and 12 others injured.
She and her husband Mark Kelly have formed a political action committee to prevent gun violence and change laws to require, among other things, comprehensive background checks for all firearms sales.
They outlined the effort this week in an editorial in USA Today and in an interview on ABC News that also provided a new glimpse at Giffords' recovery since she was shot in the head.
Giffords struggled to speak in complete sentences but provided several one-word answers to ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer in describing her recovery and response to the shootings in Tucson and Connecticut, where 20 school children were killed.