About a dozen people boarded a Sun Tran bus Wednesday morning, armed with children, signs and strollers, in attempt to call attention to their opposition to Arizona gun laws.
Tucson Moms Demand Action, a branch of a national group that advocates for tighter gun-control laws, wants state leaders to change the state law and allow cities to ban guns on public transportation.
The protesters were spurred into action by an incident four weeks ago when an unidentified man got on a Sun Tan bus with a loaded AR-15 and had his finger near the trigger as he waited for his stop. He left the bus without incident, but Tucson chapter leader Jocelyn Strauss said it was troubling to learn Sun Tran officials have no authority to ask the man to leave.
The mother of two said she couldn't believe the public transportation authority could not ask the armed man to leave because of state gun-control laws.
"I was in complete shock that there isn't more regulation on what goes on," she said. "Even the most responsible gun owner can have an accident."
Sun Tran officials said the company cannot bar anyone from bringing a gun aboard as long as he is acting within the law.
Charles Heller, with the pro-gun-rights Arizona Citizens Defense League, said the protesters are using an emotional argument in attempt to take away the rights of gun owners.
"This is the philosophy of fear. They are attempting to use fear to override our rights," Heller said. "Twelve angry people don't get to override our rights."
He said the mothers are ignoring not only the Second Amendment, but the state constitution.
The latter states in Article 2, Section 26, that the "right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself or the state shall not be impaired."
For now, Strauss said she is just hoping to get the attention of lawmakers, noting it could take years to amend state laws.
"I am hopeful we will make some noise," Strauss said. "It may take several elections to get enough people out of office and enough people in office that have gun sense."
Contact reporter Joe Ferguson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4346.