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Arizona’s lax gun laws almost led to the tragic shooting in Tuscon deteriorating to even a worse situation. A bystander with a firearm misidentified who the shooter was and by his own description avoided shooting him through "luck".

The reporting out of Tucson has focused a lot of attention on the horrific event, but overlooked is the fact that things might have gotten much worse. Keep in mind that Arizona is described by it’s own Sheriffs as being like “the wild west” – there are few gun control laws, anyone can concealed carry without a permit and cities and counties are not allowed to enact tougher gun control laws than the state has. One of the citizens who participated in the immediate aftermath was carrying a concealed weapon and came uncomfortably close to using it inappropriately.

As reported by William Saletan of Salon (http://www.slate.com/id/2280794/), Joe Zamudio was near the shooting site when Jared Loughner began his violent rampage. Carrying a firearm legally, Mr. Zamudio has stated, prompted him to respond to the shooting rather than run away (.http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703779704576073921275131528.html) Arriving at the scene, Mr Zamudio promptly misidentified the shooter who had already been taken down and ordered a fellow early responder to drop the gun. He then proceeded to throw the responders arm against a wall until others correctly identified the shooter for him.

Mr Zamudio has described his special training for incidents like this as “being around guns since childhood”. Unfortunately, that is very poor training for responding to a shooting, even experienced police officers occasionally make mistakes in such high pressure situation. He has stated that if he had gotten there a little sooner he “might have shot him” with him referring either to the shooter or the responder apparently depending on how much sooner he got there. On “Fox and Friends”, Mr. Zamudio describes taking the safety off on his weapon and having his hand on it in his jacket pocket. He also admitted he was “very lucky” that he did not shoot the wrong person, which would have been a “big fat mess”.

Amazingly, many are calling Mr. Zamudio’s situation proof that carrying a firearm in public is a good idea. Mr. Zamudio himself has stated that he no longer wishes to fly because “they won’t let you take your gun on board”. Gun advocates such as Representative Jack Harper (R) have stated that “when everyone is carrying a firearm, nobody will be a victim” (http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2011/01/10/20110110arizona-shooting-gun-politics-rhetoric.html). Harper even went so far as to blame Sheriff Dupnik for not providing security for Congresswoman Gifford at the event, although I have attended events with Congressmen and no security on several occasions). Of course that last accusation came after Sherriff Dupnik described Arizona as “the new Tombstone” referring in particular to a proposed measure that would allow college students to concealed carry firearms on campus.