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Arizona Rampage Could Have Been 'Catastrophe' if Gunman Had Been Able to Reload

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The gunman accused of shooting Rep. Gabrielle Gifford of Arizona and 19 others was trying to reload his semi-automatic weapon, but the efforts of bystanders and a new magazine that failed prevented what Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik said could have been "a huge greater catastrophe."

Speaking at a Sunday press conference in Tucson, Dupnik said that the suspect, Jared Lee Loughner, was attempting to change magazines after his initial volley of shots when "a woman went up and grabbed the magazine and tore it away from him while he was trying to put another magazine in."

Loughner then succeeded in loading another magazine but that "fortunately the spring and the magazine failed" and two other civilians were able to get the weapon away from him and subdue him until the police came, Dupnik said.

Robert Mueller and Clarence DupnikEach magazine contained 31 bullets, Dupnik said, and had Loughner been able to reload and fire again, "there would have been a huge greater catastrophe."

Patricia Maisch, the 61-year-old woman who tried to get the magazine away from the gunman, was herself wounded during the shootings.

Roger Sulzgeber and Joseph Zimudie were the other bystanders who tried to stop Loughner, according to The Associated Press.

Loughner was armed with a 9-millimeter Glock semi-automatic which FBI Director Robert Mueller said he had obtained last November. Mueller did not say where Loughner got the gun. CNN reported it was purchased at a store in Tucson.

Federal prosecutors filed charges against Loughner Sunday afternoon, including one count of attempting to assassinate a member of Congress, two counts of killing an employee of the federal government and two counts of attempting to kill a federal employee. Mueller indicated that additional charges may be filed based on the continuing investigation.

The criminal complaint said that investigators found a letter from Giffords in a safe at Loughner's house thanking him for attending one of her "Congress on Your Corner" meetings in 2007. The complaint added: "Also recovered in the safe was an enveloped with handwriting on the envelope stating 'I planned ahead,' and 'My assassination' and the name 'Giffords' along with what appears to be Loughner's signature." (See a copy of the complaint here).

Dupnik also disclosed that the second "person of interest" that authorities said they were seeking as a possible accomplice may not have been involved in Saturday's shootings.

While Dupnik said authorities still need to locate the man, whose photo was distributed by law enforcement officials, "we are more satisfied in our minds that this person may not have been involved in this incident at all."

Dupnik, who has received wide attention for his remarks Saturday attacking the amount of "vitriol" in political rhetoric that he said may contribute to violence, repeated that view with obvious emotion on Sunday and also lashed out at laws that let "everybody" carry guns.

"I think that when the rhetoric about hated, about mistrust of government, about paranoia about how government operates and to try to inflame the public on a daily basis, 24 amours a day, seven days a week, has impact on people especially who are unbalanced personalities to begin with."

Asked how he felt about Arizona's gun laws, Dupnik said of the state, "I think we're the Tombstone of the United States of America."

"I have never been a proponent of letting everybody in this state carry weapons under any circumstances that they want and that's almost where we are," he said. "The legislature at this time is proposing that students and teachers be allowed to have weapons in schools and in college ... that's the ridiculous state to where we have become."

Dupnik was referring to a bill proposed by state Sen. Karen Johnson that would allow people 21 and older who have a concealed weapons permit to carry a firearm at public colleges and universities, where they are generally not allowed. She said that if a student or teacher was armed, they could act if a gunman tried to open fire on campus as had happened at Northern Illinois University in 2008.

The 74-year-old Dupnik is a Democrat who, according to the Washington Post, "is known for his colorful and often bluntly partisan commentary." He has called Arizona's new law cracking down on illegal immigration "racist" and "stupid" and has refused to enforce it. He has also described the tea party as "bigots."

Dupnik's Saturday remarks drew a rebuke from Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl, a Republican, who said on CBS' Face the Nation, "I didn't really think that that had any part in a law enforcement briefing last night. It was speculation. And I don't think we should rush to speculate. I thought that the report that we just saw from Tucson seems to have it about right. We really don't know what motivated this young person except to know he was very mentally unstable"
Filed Under: Arizona Shooting

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sggoods

Dude, it already was a catastrophe. There was no security at the event. And the law abiding citizens did not have concealed carry to protect themselves. Another example of bad guy with gun and good guys without.

January 16 2011 at 1:32 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
cuebay

Stop whining about gun control, hi cap magazines, psych profiles ..etc etc. Yes, it was a horrible tragedy by a guy that would have found some other way to create harm if he didn't have access to a gun; drive a car through the crowd, firebomb it, fly a crop duster, who the hell knows. If someone wants to hurt/kill you they will find a way.
Gun control will take the guns out of the hands of people who SHOULD have them and just leave the criminals, gangstas, and anyone else who WOULDN'T pass a CHL backround check. "Hi Capacity magazines kill!" OMFG shut up.. I can reload 3x 10round mags in my pistol faster then he would have gotten his 2nd 31round in. If he knew what he was doing this would have been much much much worse!!! Psychiatic backround checks? Get one yourself you neurotic putz. People can be fine their whole lives then just snap. True psychopaths can fake their way thru most exams. "He was kicked out of Algebra" ??? really? wow.. who writes this crap...
It's not the gun's, the mag's, the states backround check system's, or anyone elses fault except his folks for not pro-choice. There should have been some security at the event.. Terrible things like this happen, and we all want someone to blame....

January 15 2011 at 11:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jleamer

"Reload"? Why does that particular word ring a bell? What if...what if Loughner HAD read or heard Mrs. Palin's words on television or in a paper? What if he HAD taken her literally? (he was mentally unstabled remember)What IF he HAD been inspired by her "metaphoric" advice to "RELOAD"? WHAT IF he took so many clips with so many rounds because he WAS inspired to RELOAD! Not retreat into complacency or retreat from politicians and the people who support them and the government they represent...WHAT IF!!!?

January 15 2011 at 3:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ken Brandt

This could have been prevented if a responsible gun owner was in the crowd. Why was no one carrying during the event except the shooter. If I were there this guy might have gotten off three or four rounds before I dropped him with my gun. Don't blame the gun, the ammo, the magazine capacity, or Sarah Palin for this guys actions. He did it. Blame him.

January 11 2011 at 6:11 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Ken Brandt's comment
Scoot

Simple they were all Democrats . Relying on the police to protect them .. Remember when seconds count the cops are only minutes away .....

January 16 2011 at 7:46 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
chris44107

In fact, it was unarmed people who disarmed him. You can speculate all you want, but most sane, responsible citizens DON'T go around carrying loaded guns. It would appear that it's courageous and quick thinking people who get the job done.

January 16 2011 at 12:59 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
greacia

Has anyone considered the benifits of gun control in this situation? How many more people will die before commen sense prevails? Greacia

January 10 2011 at 11:32 AM Report abuse -7 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to greacia's comment
ticejulian8

Gun control, what about the case in Ohio? Where a man stalked a mother and her two children, as I remember there was no gun. He tied up the daughter in his basement then stabbed the mother, her young son and another lady. If you want gun control then there should be a law on knife control. Lets not stop there, we should also have automobile control, power saw control. I would say the best control would be no freedom at all, that should solve all our problems!!!

January 16 2011 at 11:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jsguilbert

Too many people want to make political hay out of this tradgedy. Real people really died, some are fighting for their lives, and others are trying to emotionally cope with death and injury to loved ones or themselves. They don't need a moment of silence but our prayers and support. Concealed weapons are not suppose to be carried in a public meeting places, bars, or public events and for obvious reasons. Criminals act criminally and mad men act like mad men. We don't have to analize why. It seems whenever mad men do their thing, there is always some pundit blaming society etc... for somehow causing the mad man to act irrationally. Wake up! There are evil people in the world and no amount of hand wringing and self examination will change that.

January 10 2011 at 11:29 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
tucsonaztony

Want Tucson free from certain guns and stricter gun control. Person wants a gun for protection, fine, but nothing more than what a average cop carries - a pistol and few bullets. AND before he gets that pistol, the person must have no criminal record, full psychological testing by 3 separate psychiatrists - who stake their reputation on their decision to allow this person to have a gun, plus intensive gun shooting and safety certification (10 week 40 hour course). No need for a person to own a semi-automatic gun and have magazine with dozen of guns. Those of us without guns should have freedoms also - freedom to live without fear of crzies with guns.

January 10 2011 at 11:23 AM Report abuse -11 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to tucsonaztony's comment
Scoot

He could have used a car to kill just as many . Think about it they were all staning inline in a parking lot .....This issue goes way beyound gun control .

Maybe we need better crazy nuts control .....

January 16 2011 at 7:51 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
donutinok

Knives, box cutters, sticks, rocks, hands can be used to kill people.... gas burns, posion kills, cars can be used to mowe down crowds. Bottom line they aren't going away and it's the person behind them that matters. I'll keep my guns so I don't have to wait for the authorities...

January 10 2011 at 11:09 AM Report abuse +15 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to donutinok's comment
chris44107

Get real - most mass murders are perpetrated by guns. They can do tremendous amount of damage, quickly and at a distance. How many people are you going to kill in a minute or so by throwing rocks and sticks?

January 16 2011 at 1:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
markg91359

When the founding fathers wrote the second amendment the type of firearms that they were talking about were single shot muskets and pistols. They were not Glock semi-automatic pistols with magazines that hold 31 rounds.

The Second Amendment has now been tortured to the point where nutcases are allowed to purchase weapons with enough firepower to start world war III.

If memory serves me, the whackjob that killed 31 people at VA Tech used a Glock semi-automatic pistol as well. The people who make these killing machines are not making a firearm designed for "home protection".

The fact that we allow such weapons in this country in the hands of everybody is not a testament to our observance of the Second Amendment. It is instead a sad expression of the degree to which our elected officials are putty in the hands of "Gun Rights" groups and the National Rifle Association.

These kinds of tragedies are going to keep on happening. Who will be next? You, me, your mother, your wife, or your child?

January 10 2011 at 11:02 AM Report abuse -9 rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to markg91359's comment
Tommy T

It may be cliche but the old adaged "God created men(women) but Samuel Colt made them equal." would seem applicable in this tragic situation. There was a time in this country when more people caried guns and there was relatively less crime. Especially in the West where the crime rate was much lowere than in big cities where guns were not allowed. Media would have you believed that in the West of old, Wyatt Earp was shooting five or six people a night but it didn't happen that way in the real world. Many people were deterred for criminal activities because there was a real possibility of some ordinary armed citizen shooting you if you tried to commit a crime. Many times armed citizens ended lawlessness of notorious gangs by united action such as the Jesse James gang in Northfield, Minnesota and the Dalton gang in Coffeyville, Kansas. If you think about it, where do these mad men go to commit the horrendous crimes? Gun clubs? National Rifle Association meetings? No! They go to places where their victims are unlikely to be armed. Columbine High School, elementary schools, college campuses. It's almost as if parents didn't want their children protected. It is sad but true that in most cases, police agencies can't prevent people from committing crimes. People have to be ready to protect themselves until police can be summoned. Just like smart people who take responsibility for themselves by getting First Aid training and CPR training, more righteous citizens need to be armed in order to deal with violent crimes immediately if they should occur. As they used to say in the Boy Scouts--Be Prepared.

January 10 2011 at 10:54 AM Report abuse +12 rate up rate down Reply

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