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Gun Violence In Arizona

PHOTO: Gun Safety advocate Heather Martens says the regulation package announced by President Obama last week is common sense and reasonable. CREDIT: Dennis Drenner
PHOTO: Gun Safety advocate Heather Martens says the regulation package announced by President Obama last week is common sense and reasonable. CREDIT: Dennis Drenner
January 21, 2013

PHOENIX - The FBI says there were 339 murders in Arizona in 2011, the most recent year for which statistics are available, and two-thirds of them involved guns. The package of gun-safety legislation the President unveiled last week includes a ban on high-capacity gun magazines, and the reinstatement of a ban on some assault-style weapons.

Gun safety advocate Heather Martens calls those "common sense measures," along with the proposal to have mandatory background checks for all gun purchases, including private sales.

"That is really crucial to our efforts to prevent the guns from falling into the hands of people who should not have them: so, criminals or people with serious mental illness."

The National Rifle Association says law-abiding gun owners shouldn't be blamed for the acts of criminals and madmen, and they claim the push is more about attacking the Second Amendment than keeping children safe.

Martens believes the Second Amendment and public safety are not contradictory, and moving forward with these plans is something she thinks many gun owners can get behind.

"I grew up in a hunting family myself. I learned to shoot when I was 10 years old, and the NRA that I knew as a child is not the NRA of today. The NRA lobbyists today represent the firearms industry, especially those that manufacture assault weapons."

Twenty-three executive actions were also announced by the President, including a directive to strengthen the national criminal background-check system. Martens likes the move to allow for the study of gun violence at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Which they have been prevented from doing by Congress for a number of years now. And what he said is, 'We don't benefit from ignorance.' We need to find out what's really happening out there, in order to understand how to better prevent gun violence."

The most recent figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show Arizona among the most deadly states for gun violence, ranking seventh for the rate of gun deaths including suicides, and sixth for gun-involved murders.

More information about Martens' group's positions is at protectmn.org.

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ