Gun-control talk may have waned recently, but one local elected official is determined to bring it back to the forefront to start 2014.
“I’m dedicated to keep bringing the issue of rational gun-control measures back to the public eye until we get some meaningful legislation passed at either the state or federal level,” Councilman Steve Kozachik said.
To keep a spotlight on the issue, Kozachik is hosting a community gun-control and mental-health forum Tuesday at the Loft Cinema, 3233 E. Speedway.
Panelists include local elected and law-enforcement officials, survivors from the Virginia Tech and Jan. 8 shootings, and others.
The free event begins at 6 p.m., and is open to the public.
The evening will begin with a viewing of “Living for 32,” a documentary where a survivor from the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre, Colin Goddard, takes an undercover camera to highlight how easy it is to purchase a firearm without a background check.
After the screening, the panel, including Goddard, will discuss closing the “gun show loophole,” local efforts between law-enforcement agencies and mental-health groups to coordinate so people who need treatment receive it, and other related topics.
“We can’t keep talking about the issue of gun control without also including some element of the mental-health component,” Kozachik said. “Our panel will be able to speak to how the unfair stigma that’s still associated with treatable mental-health issues is hurting our ability to both offer needed services and protect the public.”
Kozachik hopes the entire discussion will spur local, state and federal officials to enact common-sense gun laws this year.
“Huge majorities of the public want to see expanded background-check laws,” Kozachik said. “I want to see some elected officials grow some guts and stand up to the moneyed gun lobby and pass laws that ensure we’re no longer selling weapons to people who should otherwise be prohibited from buying them based on their criminal or mental-health histories.”
Not everyone’s convinced Kozachik’s efforts will bear fruit.
“Mr. Kozachik might as well hold a forum on United States relations with Uzbekistan, because his authority to affect change in either arena is about equal,” said Todd Rathner, a lobbyist for the Arizona State Rifle and Pistol Association and a National Rifle Association board member, in an email. “He seems to forget that he, the City Council, and the mayor have no authority in Arizona to regulate guns in any way. But every time he holds one of these exercises in futility, we are happy to remind him of that fact.”
Kozachik pointed out the city successfully passed a number of gun-related ordinances last year, including a background check requirement on all gun sales conducted on city property.