A group of moms is taking its strollers to the streets today to protest a state law prohibiting cities from banning firearms on public transportation.
Tucson Moms Demand Action, a branch of a national group which advocates for tighter gun control laws, will be holding "stroller jams" on Sun Tran buses as a way to ask the Legislature to give local municipalities control over who can and who can't bring a gun on a city bus.
"(Tucson's) done a lot of other common sense solutions, ... but we can't do this one," Tucson chapter leader Jocelyn Strauss said. "It's not fair for the state to dictate to cities what they can do."
The protest stems from an incident about a month ago when a man boarded a Sun Tran bus with a loaded AR-15 and sat with his finger near the trigger while he waited for his stop.
Strauss said she was appalled after hearing the news that someone could just carry a firearm in a menacing way on a bus and neither the city nor Sun Tran could do anything about it.
"I think, especially in Tucson after the Jan. 8 shooting, a lot of us are really leery of a situation like that," Strauss said. "It (looked) terrifying, and I would have taken my kids right off the bus."
A Sun Tran spokeswoman said the company doesn't have the ability to prohibit anyone from bringing a gun aboard a bus provided they are acting within the law.
"There's no wiggle room. We have to follow state law," said Kandi Young, Sun Tran communications manager. "At this point, our hands are tied."
About the only option currently available would be to install gun lockers on buses. But Young said that isn't a feasible option.
And a lack of options is one reason Councilman Steve Kozachik said he's supporting the moms in their bid to amend state law.
"Drivers are already put in a tense situation when they have to ask unruly riders to leave a bus. To add a gun to that dynamic would likely result in an argument escalating into a lethal exchange, with other passengers caught in a closed environment. Nothing about that scene makes sense," Kozachik said. "The state needs to rescind the part of state law that prevents local jurisdictions from adopting these sorts of ordinances when we hear that our constituents want us to take action."
Gun rights advocates say any new statute or change in the law would only succeed in disarming law-abiding citizens. And that wouldn't make anyone safer.
"The way state law is currently written, fugitives and criminals can carry loaded weapons on buses, openly or concealed, any time they want, until a law enforcement officer is present to stop them," said Ken Rineer, president of Gun Owners of Arizona in an email. "Any steps taken to disarm lawful firearm owners, without first disarming the criminal element must be dismissed outright."
The moms group will meet at 1010 E. 10th Street at 10 a.m. and march with strollers and signs in tow down to Roskruge Middle School where they will board a bus to the Ronstadt Center.
Strauss said this event is just the beginning, since her group is not going to allow the issue to fade away.
"We're trying to make a little noise and not let the topic die down because over and over again people react immediately and get upset, but nothing really happens and then it dies down," Strauss said. "Moms Demand Action is not letting any of it die down. We want common sense gun legislation. So this issue is just going to be brought up again and again."
Contact reporter Darren DaRonco at 573-4243 or firstname.lastname@example.org.