Arizona's response to the Giffords shooting: Only guns can stop gun violence.

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Jan. 10 2011 7:59 PM

There Will Be Guns

Arizona's response to the Giffords shooting: Only guns can stop gun violence.

See Slate's complete coverage of the Gabrielle Giffords shooting and arrest of Jared Lee Loughner.

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The point of all this is that there's very little gun-control activists can do in Arizona in the aftermath of the Tucson shooting. They can point out that Loughner had shown signs of mental problems before he was sold a Glock 19 at the Tucson Sportsman's Warehouse, or bullets at a local Wal-Mart. But the state prohibits any coordination of mental health records with the National Instant Criminal Background Check system.

So Arizona's response—the most likely legislative response—is going to be expanded gun rights. Heller told me on Monday that the Arizona Citizens Defense League has drafted legislation that would allow the state to train members of Congress and their staffs in firearms, and give them access to firearms they could carry in their districts.

"I don't think having a firearm on her would have done Congresswoman Giffords any good," Heller admitted. "However, if it was known that members of her staff were well armed, that very well could have dissuaded [the shooter]."

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I couldn't find a legislator on Monday who was interesting in bringing this up, and Heller's group is still working out the details of its proposal. But these ideas are going to have traction. Over the weekend, Reps. Jason Chaffetz and Heath Shuler said that they intended to keep sidearms with them when they traveled their districts.

They were going only a little farther than Giffords herself has gone, talking about her own firearm and her belief in the Second Amendment. In 2009, an activist brought an AR-15 to a protest outside of a presidential appearance in Phoenix. It was legal, and Giffords did not condemn it. Her spokeswoman said at the time that Giffords would "balance rights guaranteed under the Second Amendment and providing her constituents with a safe forum to share their views."

It's been 43 years since a member of Congress was assassinated on American soil. The death of Robert F. Kennedy led to the passage of a sweeping Gun Control Act. The Tucson shooting is likely to lead to Arizona's loose gun-control laws getting even looser—looser than they were when they applied to Wyatt Earp.

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