Gun shows that allow individual sales without background checks will be prohibited at the Tucson Convention Center.
Dozens of supporters and opponents packed the mayor and council chambers Tuesday afternoon as the City Council voted unanimously to require background checks on all gun sales on city-owned or managed property. The resolution will return to the council for final approval within weeks.
Tucson was at the center of the gun-control issue and it was incumbent on city officials to pass common-sense laws, even if it complicates a few gun sales, said Councilman Steve Kozachik, who along with colleague, Councilwoman Karin Uhlich sponsored the measure.
"It's not our job to make the purchase of guns more convenient," Kozachik said. "It's … to make them safer."
Passions ran deep on both sides.
Gun-rights advocates protested with taped mouths and neon-green signs during the meeting that criticized the move.
"They only wanted to hear from people who agreed with them," said Al Trozzi, a Tucson resident and a member of Gun Owners of Arizona and other gun-rights groups.
The background-check requirement will accomplish little, Trozzi predicted, saying it was mostly symbolic and will have little impact on keeping guns out of the hands of criminals.
"This is not going to accomplish anything," he said. "I could see if this could make a difference, but this only (affects) law-abiding people."
Supporters cheered and shouted "thank you" when the council voted.
Uhlich said the number of men, women and children who attended the meeting in support of the change proved the community is behind the measure.
"The response to this issue has been overwhelmingly in support of reasonable, safe guns for the public," Uhlich said. "It is very clear to me that Tucsonans want us to take any and every step that is within our power until there are safeguards in place and reasonable laws put in place at the national level."
"No one's going to listen"
Detractors said the council stifled dissent by not allowing the public to speak during the meeting.
In response, Ken Rineer, president of Gun Owners of Arizona, said he rounded up a number of his members and others sympathetic to gun rights to offer a countermeasure to what has been a one-sided conversation up to this point.
"It's hypocritical. All they're talking about is having a discussion, but yet they don't want to discuss anything," Rineer said. "They really don't want a discussion. They just want to do" whatever they want to exclusion of opposing viewpoints.
James Massee, gun-rights supporter and Pima County business owner, said if you lack influence over a council member, there's no room for your opinion at the table.
"We have no connections to any council member," so no one's going to listen to us, Massee said.
Local issue, national motivation
Many who supported the ordinance listed Newtown, Conn., as a motivating factor.
Elizabeth Stember, a volunteer coordinator with the Tucson chapter of One Million Moms for Gun Control, said she has been mother and grandmother for 40 years, but never feared sending her children or grandchildren to school until this year.
"It's created a new experience for me as a mother and grandmother and knowing that those babies had three to 11 bullets in them is what pushed me over the line," Stember said.
Even though the One Million Moms group supports gun-control measures, it doesn't want to confiscate all firearms, said Tucson chapter co-chairwoman Jocelyn Strauss.
"The organization in general is for the Second Amendment," Strauss said. "A lot of people assume that common-sense gun laws mean that we want to take guns away, but we just want laws that protect people."
Councilwoman Regina Romero fought back tears as she recounted how the Newtown massacre affected her and the nation.
"The children of our nation suffered," Romero said. "It woke me up. It woke many of us up to do something that's common sense. …That will help protect our children. That will help protect our community. That will help protect our people."
Contact reporter Darren DaRonco at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4243.