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Tucson gearing up for fight with state over gun laws

PHOENIX — A Tucson council member said he is ready for a fight when it comes to gun laws in his city.

Arizona law prevents cities from passing tougher gun laws than the state has on the books, but Tucson Councilman Steve Kozachik wants universal background checks on all gun sales on city-owned property.

Kozachik said he’s not trying to sidestep Arizona law, but if the state wants a fight, he’s ready.

“[The state] would lose in the courtroom and in the court of public opinion,” he said.

Kozachik believes he has the council votes needed to pass the tougher gun laws on Feb. 5. The Tucson measure would require universal background checks on gun shows at the Tucson Convention Center.

Kozachik said he expects the opposition to come not only from the state, but gun rights advocates as well. He faced stiff opposition during a gun buyback that offered $50 gift cards in exchange for guns.

“Gun rights advocates on the periphery of my buyback and, in my opinion, the periphery of a rational conversation, were holding their own cash for guns flea market. They were trying to intercept people heading to my buyback event. To me, if you can stand 50 feet away from a couple of dozen cops and offer somebody cash for a gun without knowing anything about their background, that screams for a fix in the loophole.”

To those groups, Kozachik said if they’re ready to be so brazen, he’s willing to play the game with them.

“If you’re going to do that on city property, we’re going to require background checks and I’m not going to wait for the state or the federal government to approve it. It’s a public safety issue.”