Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton transcript: Gun control in Ariz.

Sept. 11, 2012

The following is a transcript from a sit-down Precedent students had with Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton.

CIERA WOODFIN – What is your stance on gun control?
MAYOR GREG STANTON – I have signed on to the Pledge that mayor Bloomberg of New York has asked us to sign up on dealing wit the loop hole and issues dealing with the reprimand that use to be in place that is no longer in place now. Before I became mayor, I worked at the attorney generals office and spent a little time at the legislature and on behalf of the attorney generals office. I was involved with government issues including concealed carry and universal concealed carry, which we opposed. I thought that the bridge was too far, that they are taking away the training requirement when you a concealed carrying permit. All the training and learning about gun laws was very appropriate requirement, and that got taken away, I though that that wasn’t the right protocol for our state.

CW- Arizona is the most lenient on gun laws; have there been any fears form the community or business owners because of concealed weapons?
GS- I can tell you that law enforcement, the association of chief of police including the attorney generals office, came together on that issue and opposed to the universal conceal carrying, I think also you saw the same guns and bar bill as well. One of the great ironies is that when the bill that would allow guns and bars would pass, this is before the universal conceal carry. One of the arguments was in order for people to carry a conceal gun In a place where alcohol was served, they’d have to go through training to get the permit, but the next year they took away the training [laughs] so they kind of lost that element of it. Look, anytime you talk about guns, its one of the most controversial issues that people have feelings one way or both sides of the issue and most people I know that are actively involved with the issue feel passionate about their side of the issue. Also, some people fear that if we don’t pass the reasonable law dealing with guns, people fear that if we pass then law then we will have an armed citizenry, and so its one of those issue where there is probably no hotly debated or hotter political topic, certainly in our state of what laws should be passed related to guns.

CW – Do you think there should be a change in the law, and if so how would you implement it?
GS- I signed onto the “Mayors Against Illegal Guns.” I thought that the so called gun show loop hole should be filled, and also that the reasonable laws like, the Assault weapon ban I think it’s a reasonable public policy and I think there should be some reasonable changes to some of the gun laws.

CW – Have you personally had experience with guns or people that you know that have had guns?
GS – Well, I’m from Arizona so [laughs] you can’t be from Arizona and without knowing people that have guns. The vast majority of people of gun owners are trained or safe, they know what they’re doing, and they handle them perfectly fine. I may believe that there are some reasonable laws that should be passed that doesn’t mean in any regard that its and indictment on all gun owners, that’s just simply not the case. Just like anything, most people are very, very responsible and reasonable with their weapons.

CW – Do you think it would change the way Arizonans react or behave based on theses gun laws?
GS – I don’t want to pass any law that would restrict any law-abiding citizen from the ability to go purchase a weapon if they feel that they need it for personal safety. No one that I know of that is in a responsible leadership position takes that position. The issue is really whether or not any loopholes in the requirements or background checks, and we close the loop hole so that we can insure that it is a responsible person. Some of the tragedies that we’ve seen: Virginia Tech, and else where are part of the situation where someone required a weapon when they probably shouldn’t have been acquiring. The average citizen that’s law abiding that feel that they want a weapon for either there shooting practice, hunting or whatever should have easy access to acquire the weapon and easy access to acquire ammunition that goes with it. But what we are talking about is really not an assault-type weapon or whether there should be an appropriate background checks or closing of the loophole that doesn’t require a background check, that’s all we are talking about.

CW – Since you mentioned Virginia Tech, how do you feel about the national massacres that have been happening on campuses and other places?
GS- Its heartbreaking, you know, In Arizona we had our tragedy in Tucson in January of last year, and we’ve lost too many of our citizens. My friend Gabby Giffords was shot and unfortunately had to give up her career choice, being a leader in congress, and you know I think people all across the country have been struck with tragedy, even in their own communities. It’s just heartbreaking when you see that sort of thing of course.

CW – Do you think the reason that these kids are easily getting guns because of other states gun laws?
GS – I don’t know, I think each state has its own set of facts and so I don’t know, I don’t want to paint with too broad of a brush there. Not only are those tragedies heartbreaking but it sheds a light on it, and obviously brings issues that you guys are bringing to the forefront and to the American consciousness debate, and that’s the only upside about it, that it raises awareness.

CW – What do you think is the future for the national massacres and the gun laws that have been happening?
GS – Well, I just don’t know. There have been too mass shootings lately, and if you look at trend lines in terms of these mass shootings its definitely increasing and I don’t know why, and I’m not sure anybody knows why. In fact, why that’s happening and the future of gun laws, I don’t know. You know, there was a time when there was a national consensus about issues like the assault weapon ban that was very popular when it went into place and support for that has significantly eroded. And just pulling information that I’ve seen, and I don’t do it on my own, but, just publicly available polling, shows that right now there is still not support for any additional laws relative to guns.

BROOKE KARAKEY – What do you think your main opposition regarding less strict gun laws? (Culture or any specific interest groups).
MAYOR GREG STANTON – Well, I mean, the entities that challenge any potential gun laws, there are multiple laws, but you know, they are very strong, sure. There are very popular organizations in each of the states as well as the federal government that are very strong. I believe that they are very sincere in their beliefs, I respect them and I mean this is not an issue where one side is cynical. Both sides feel very strongly about their position and believe that they are on the side of safety. This is what American democracy is all about, we have two sides that fell very strongly about the position that they have.

BK – How do you think gun laws affect us as a border state?
GS – In terms of the gun trade, the issue is with the buyers going to Mexico. So, yes it’s all too common that someone will buy guns here, and smuggle them across the border. We have many opportunities with the border of Mexico, and trading opportunity, but we have challenges. Drugs come north and money goes south, and there is still way, way too much of that activity. Does it affect us here in Phoenix? Well, our crime rate is really low right now, thank goodness, almost historically low. So I don’t know if it affects a city like us in terms of crimes per se. But, it does make the drug cartel stronger and that’s a significant issue in the future of our relationship with Mexico.