— TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Tuesday was not just a day for Tucson to remember the victims of the deadly shooting that severely injured then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. It was also a day when residents could see firsthand the nation's gun debate play out in a busy parking lot outside a city police station.
On one side was a councilman who supports gun control leading an effort to give $50 grocery store gift cards to anyone who turned in their guns to police. And on the other was an event organized by a state senator that turned into an open, unregulated and legal marketplace for firearms.
"We have a fundamental hole in the private sales of guns. You can walk up right in front of a cop and buy a gun, no background check, nothing," said Councilman Steve Kozachik. "How much more flawed can the system be?"
The people who bought guns from each other declined repeated requests for comments.
The dueling gun buy-back programs — and the annual ringing of bells to remember the six dead and 13 injured, including Giffords — came as the congresswoman and her husband announced that they were forming a political action committee aimed at curbing gun violence.
Giffords and husband Mark Kelly, a former astronaut, wrote in an op-ed published in USA Today that their Americans for Responsible Solutions initiative would help raise money to support greater gun control efforts and take on the powerful gun lobby.
"Achieving reforms to reduce gun violence and prevent mass shootings will mean matching gun lobbyists in their reach and resources," the couple wrote. They said that it will "raise funds necessary to balance the influence of the gun lobby."
There was already some concern among gun control advocates that they were losing the momentum they hoped to have after the Newtown, Conn., elementary school shooting that left 20 children and six adults dead. Congress was already occupied with budget concerns.