Two years to the day after Jared Lee Loughner killed six people and wounded 13 others, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, in Tucson, Ariz., people interested in ditching their guns could take their pick between two buybacks in town.
At one event, held by Tucson City Council member Steve Kozachik at a Tucson police station, members of the public could turn in a gun in exchange for a $50 Safeway gift card, while supplies lasted.
Kozachik chose the Tucson massacre anniversary for the buyback to keep the conversation about gun violence alive in the community, after the more recent Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Colo., shootings.
At the other event a stone’s throw away, outgoing state Sen. Frank Antenori (R), who has reportedly butted heads with Kozachick for some time, decided to hold his own buyback, posting up near the city event and offering cash for guns to boost his own collection.
“I think it’s just right that people be given an option,” he told TPM on Tuesday. Some owners might not know how much their guns were worth, he said, so he and some other gun enthusiasts offered to shell out more than $50 if a gun was worth it, and give it a secure home. Antenori personally bought two pistols.
Antenori admitted that the event sanctioned by the city claimed more guns, but he said his group purchased about 40 altogether.
Kozachik told TPM on Tuesday morning that his buyback was going well. He started with about $10,700 worth of gift cards and expected to sell out by the end of the day. He said Antenori was “marginalizing himself as a serious contributor to the community conversation” with his competing buyback.
Kozachik insisted his event was neither anti-gun nor anti-Second Amendment. “If somebody has a firearm in their home that they’re simply uncomfortable having, this is giving them an opportunity to get rid of it and dispose of it properly,” he said. “Antenori wants to turn this thing into a firearms flea market, and he’s making a fool of himself.”
Antenori dismissed Kozachik’s event as a “political stunt” that wasted taxpayer dollars. “They paid a ton of money for a do-gooder, touchy-feely buyback program,” he said, referring to the cost of having police assigned to work the city event. Antenori, a retired sergeant first class with U.S. special forces, said he showed up to buy guns Tuesday to prove there are “two sides” to the gun-control debate.
David Taintor is TPM’s News Editor. He contributes to TPM’s Livewire coverage, among other areas. David is from Chanhassen, Minnesota, where, yes, it gets very cold. Reach him at taintor [at] talkingpointsmemo.com