PIMA COUNTY, ARIZONA - Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall on Tuesday said she supports President Barack Obama's executive action to expand background checks in order to curb gun violence.
The President's executive order comes during the week that marks the five-year anniversary of the Tucson Tragedy of January 8, 2011, that claimed six innocent lives and injured many others, including former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
In 2015 alone, 13,330 lives were taken in 52,561 total gun incidents throughout the United States, including 330 mass shootings. In Arizona, during 2014, the last year for which statistics were published, there were 927 firearm deaths, which is a rate of 13.45 per 100,000, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
The Pima County Attorney's Office convicted 419 individuals of felony weapons violations in FY 2014/15.
"The statistics on gun violence are horrifying. We are experiencing a public health and safety crisis of epidemic proportions," LaWall said.
LaWall commented that, as a prosecutor, she has dealt with literally thousands of gun crimes.
"It never gets easier to listen to the personal stories told by the victims, both those who have been shot and survived, and their family members and friends who are the survivors of gun homicides," LaWall said. "I was personally impacted by the January 8th shooting in a whole new way. Several victims were friends of mine and people I had known before the crime was committed. I gained a whole new understanding of the personal impact of the tragedy. It was a crime that affected our entire community."
The President's executive action requires all gun dealers to perform a background check before any sale – including not only dealers who sell out of brick-and-mortar gun shops, but also those who sell at gun shows and on the internet.
This solution has broad popular support. A November 2015 survey found that 83 percent of gun owners support background checks on all firearm sales, including 72 percent of National Rifle Association members.
"Preventing gun crimes is vital to protecting public safety and common sense solutions must be implemented wherever possible. That is why we have a program known as Communities Addressing Responsible Gun Ownership, which operates the 'Lock Up Your Gun Campaign,' providing local doctors, clinics, and hospitals with free gunlocks and brochures with safety information to disseminate regarding the proper ways to secure and handle firearms. And, that is why I am proposing that the Arizona Legislature pass a bill that would give law enforcement officers the ability to remove guns from domestic abusers."