Arizona Sheriff Slams Right-Wing Media and Gun Laws: "Arizona Victimized by Gun Lobby" ... Conservative Media "Make Millions Inflaming Public"
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REPORTER: Sheriff, the woman injured that was injured yesterday who grabbed the magazine, was she injured prior to grabbing the magazine?
SHERIFF CLARENCE DUPNIK: As she was shot.
REPORTER: Before grabbing?
SHERIFF CLARENCE DUPNIK: Before grabbing the weapon.
REPORTER: Sheriff, what about the gun laws? What about any change in mental health law, the treatment of mental health for some of these people, as well? Is that any issue involved there?
SHERIFF CLARENCE DUPNIK: That’s an everyday issue for the entire United States, for the entire world. We have very, very serious problems in this community. Back in 1960, when I was a young cop on the beat, we put the mentally ill people who were threats into a system that incarcerated them. Today, they’re out on the street, and we’re paying a price for it. Thank you very much.
REPORTER: Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Clarence Dupnik, Sheriff of Pima County, Arizona, speaking at a news conference with the FBI director, Robert Mueller. And Sheriff Dupnik now joins us on the telephone from Tucson.
Welcome to Democracy Now! Our condolences on this horrible tragedy. I wanted to go to your statement that Arizona is "the tombstone of the United States of America," when it comes to gun laws in this country. Arizona is only one of three states in this country that have laws that allow you to carry a concealed weapon without a permit in public. Talk about these laws, Sheriff Dupnik.
SHERIFF CLARENCE DUPNIK: Well, Arizona is an ultra-right, ultra-conservative state. And I think it is victimized by the gun lobby. Our legislators don’t seem capable of doing anything reasonable when it comes to weapons in this state. And as you heard on the clip, there’s a bill put into the legislature, as we speak, that would allow teachers and students to carry weapons concealed in the classrooms. And to me, it’s insane.
AMY GOODMAN: The history of this—Janet Napolitano, the head of the Department of Homeland Security, had vetoed efforts in the past, but when Janet—when Governor Brewer came into office, she signed a bill that made Arizona not only the third state, after Alaska and Vermont, to make it legal to carry a concealed weapon without a permit, but she has also signed a bill allowing loaded guns in bars and restaurants and another bill that prohibits property owners from banning guns from parking areas, as long as the weapons are kept locked in vehicles. Do you think these laws need to be revoked, need to be changed?
SHERIFF CLARENCE DUPNIK: Well, there is absolutely no chance that that’s going to happen in the state of Arizona. But we can’t get the legislature to pass a law against texting while driving. That’s how, in my judgment, ridiculously things have become in our state.
AMY GOODMAN: You’ve been extremely strong, Sheriff Dupnik, about the political climate in Arizona, particularly the state of TV and radio talk shows. Explain exactly what you mean.
SHERIFF CLARENCE DUPNIK: Well, I think that there are a lot of people in the radio industry, especially, and some in the TV industry, who make millions of dollars off of inflaming the public, purveying hate against the government, and distrust. And in some cases, we have political candidates who say, "Maybe if we can’t solve these problems, we need to consider the Second Amendment as a solution," or we have high-profile people saying, "People like Gabrielle Giffords, we need to keep in the crosshairs." And in my judgment, these kinds of statements are totally irresponsible, and there are consequences associated with them.