Kathy Jensen swore off guns after a friend’s suicide in high school.
But Saturday morning, she found herself looking at a small pink handgun with her family at Guns Plus in Surprise.
“I’ve been afraid of guns forever,” Jensen told her three children. “I’m trying to work on getting over my fear.”
Michael Jensen, Kathy’s husband, wants to teach his wife and children to shoot.
He got rid of his guns before his oldest son was born, but now, he said, the children are old enough to learn how to handle a weapon.
“I just want to get back into it,” Michael Jensen said.
Michael Jensen said the family’s visit to Guns Plus on Saturday had nothing to do with the shootings in Aurora, Colo., earlier this month. He said his interest in guns is more for sport.
Ken Senft, the Guns Plus owner, said the Colorado tragedy has had little impact on his business.
However, the movie theater massacre that left 12 people dead and 58 wounded has sparked a national gun control debate.
Some have advocated for the reinstatement of an assault rifle ban of the 1990s.
President Barack Obama said he understands the “cherished national heritage” behind gun ownership for sport and hunting, but that some gun control laws should be “common sense,” giving examples that AK-47’s should be used only in war and that gun buyers should be subject to both criminal and mental background checks before making a purchase.
Senft said that he thinks more gun control laws won’t have an effect on crime, nor would stricter laws have changed what happened in Colorado.
“First of all, they can write all the laws they want, but criminals don’t obey the laws,” Senft said, adding any new laws would have the most effect on law-abiding citizens.
“If somebody’s insane, there’s no way to protect or stop that,” he said.
Deanna Stropes, the leader of Grandmothers for Peace in Sun City, said gun control laws are a “no-brainer.”
Stropes said statistics show households with a gun are less safe.
Since she didn’t grow up in a home with a gun and didn’t know anyone with a gun, she doesn’t see the need to have them.
While Stropes said she understands the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms, the Founding Fathers couldn’t have envisioned the military-style guns of today. Any argument that people should be able to have those types of weapons is “insane,” she said.
The Second Amendment does not trump the rest of the Constitution, Stropes said, and the general welfare of all Americans needs to be considered, not just gun owners.
One thing Stropes and Senft agreed on is that there needs to be more regulation of online purchases of firearms and ammunition.
“To me this is just a no-brainer,” Stropes said, adding she’s upset that Obama is not doing enough to advance gun control.
Senft said online purchasing doesn’t allow for dealers to do a gut-check when making a sale.
A gun dealer has a responsibility when making sales, he said, and online sales lack face-to-face interaction that could be the difference between a potential killer getting a gun or not.
“I think that’s the problem with those online sales,” Senft said.
Not feeling comfortable with a sale could be as simple as having a bad gut feeling that something is wrong.
Senft noted alleged Colorado shooter James Holmes had purchased much of his ammunition online and had rigged his apartment with explosives, which he likely learned online. No laws would have changed that, he said.
The solution, Senft said, might be making it harder for people with mental issues to get a gun.
“It would be important if we start looking at protecting those people and protecting society from them if they have mental issues,” he said.
Laws should be more severe if someone commits a crime with a gun, Senft said.
He suggested a life sentence for a crime using a gun and the death penalty in all murders. That would act as more of a deterrent, he said.