* Tombstone residents disagree on gun control needs
* Heated debate could test Arizona, U.S. calls for reason
By Tim Gaynor and Peter Henderson
TOMBSTONE/TUCSON (Reuters) - A block from the famous
OK Corral of cowboy outlaw history, retired police officer Bob
Harbster has some advice for the Arizona sheriff investigating
the Tucson shooting of a congresswoman and 19 others and who is
raising the prospect of gun control: Wise up.
"As far as I'm concerned, if you're not carrying a gun, you
are a potential victim, from crazies like this little fool up
there yesterday," Harbster said Sunday as he walked down the
historical dirt and timber main street of Tombstone.
Tucson police believe 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner
sprayed a small political gathering at a grocery store with
bullets from a semi-automatic pistol, wounding Representative
Gabrielle Giffords with a shot that went clean through her head
and killing a nine-year-old girl and five others.
Tombstone is a former silver boom town whose historic Old
West buildings and outlaw flavor have made it a tourist
attraction about 70 miles southeast of Tucson.
"Gun control" are fighting words in many parts of Arizona
and the United States, and Saturday's slaughter has raised the
stakes in the battle as many shocked citizens call for curbs on
political rhetoric in the state and the nation.
"If somebody there was armed, they could have taken care of
him," said Harbster.
The old silver mining city where Doc Holliday and Wyatt
Earp had a shootout with the McLaury clan in 1881 was pushed to
the center of the U.S. gun control debate Sunday, when Pima
County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik said Arizona had become the
"Tombstone of the United States," and said he didn't believe
everyone in Arizona should have the right to pack a gun.
Jim Newbauer, owner of a gun shop called Lefty's Corner
Store in Tombstone, stood behind a counter in his store, packed
with vintage pistols and old frontier rifles and chided Sheriff
Dupnik for his remarks about Tombstone. But he was ambivalent
about the need for gun control.
"Even if there was a ban on guns everywhere, ... if people
wanted to use them, they'd still get their hands on them," he
said, but Arizona arguably had gone too far, allowing concealed
weapons without a license, he said.
"Anyone can stuff a gun in their pocket and walk around
with it," he said. "They should have required some training to
learn the law, and when to use it and when not to use it."
'ARMED TO THE TEETH'
The debate over guns adds a layer of complexity to a larger
one over inflammatory political rhetoric and its role in
inciting violence in Arizona and in America. The shootings led
many in the state to call for an agreement to disagree.
"The right word is 'civility' in our communities. We've
been there before and we need to get back," said Bob Walkup,
the mayor of Tucson. "This is a national tragedy."
Attending Casas church on Sunday morning in an affluent
Tucson suburb near where the shooting occurred, carpet
saleswoman Vickie Oberg, 63, who disagreed with Giffords'
positions, believed compassion would calm the storm.
"Politically we are totally opposite of her, but in our
hearts we are so sorry about it," she said, speaking for
herself and her husband.
Standing at a makeshift shrine to Giffords at the hospital
where the representative is being treated, epidemiologist Jane
Mohler, 57, saw the tragedy as a chance for the state to bury
its differences, but she doesn't expect Arizona -- or America
-- to change.
"This could bring us together, or it could further rip us
apart, and my fear is that it is going to further rip us
apart," she said. People were afraid and mean-spirited, she
said. "We are an armed-to-the-teeth state, and nation."
Back in the hardscrabble high desert city that bills itself
as "the town too tough to die," student Eric Tyler, 37, said he
thought Giffords' death was "unnecessary" -- as was gun
"There's still millions of people out there who have guns
and don't go killing people. It's the idiots that kill people,"
(Editing by Mary Milliken and Cynthia Osterman)
(email@example.com, +1 323 251 4827)
© 2015 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.