Columns » Hightower

Want tougher gun control? GOP says 'No'




Let's take a little trip to Irony, Ariz. It's not a town, but a concept, though the state's political leaders don't seem at all familiar with it. Claiming to represent the will of the people, they've enacted the most free-wheeling gun toting laws in America — no state has fewer restrictions.

Which brings us to irony: A recent poll reveals that far from being a wild bunch of devil-may-care gunslinging ideologues, a majority of Arizonans actually want tougher gun laws. Overall, 55 percent of the residents favor more stringent controls.

Of course, this is the state where Jared Lee Loughner gunned down Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and a parking lot full of people in January. Using a 30-bullet, semi-automatic pistol, the shooter pulled off his massacre in just a few seconds.

Yet, the intractable gun lobby's absolutist political apologists see no problem with such mass-slaughtering machines being loose on the land. The problem, explains Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn (ironically a medical doctor) is that Loughner is "a mentally deranged person [who] should not have had access to a gun."

Wow, that's progress! Let's have a sanity test before you can buy a murderous 30-bullet weapon at an unregulated gun show. In fact, New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg has introduced a bill in Congress to require just that. But, wait — where did Sen. Coburn go? Neither he nor any of his Republican colleagues have signed on as co-sponsors of this tiny step toward gun sanity, a step that could've saved many of the dead and wounded in that Arizona parking lot.

Now, back to Irony. The poll found that 92 percent of Arizona's voters want to keep the mentally ill from buying guns — with 93 percent of Republicans most strongly in favor of this. Good luck to them in getting their politicians to support it.

Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow, on sale now from Wiley Publishing. For more information, visit

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