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Arizona border sheriff calls for assault weapons ban

PHOENIX -- The sheriff of an Arizona county on the border with Mexico is calling for a U.S. ban on assault weapons.

Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada knows his views won't be popular, he knows he is the odd man out, but he has come out strongly in support of a ban on assault weapons, extended ammunition magazines.

It goes too far when you're arming people with assault rifles. Next time it will be bazookas and tanks. Where will it stop. I don't believe we're in jeopardy of losing our rights to be armed. It's a matter of deciding if we want to arm people with weapons of mass destruction."

Estrada said his county's proximity to the Mexican border is another concern with assault rifles. Many of the Mexican drug smugglers are getting their hands on assault rifles courtesy of Americans, who are selling them to cartels despite the brutal drug war south of the border that has left thousands dead.

Several other Arizona sheriffs see things a little differently.

In the neighboring county, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu says "guns are not the problem, this is largely a mental health issue. Any new regulation or law restricting ownership of guns will only impact law abiding gun owners and not the mass murderers that carry out horrific crimes."

Estrada also said he is in favor of universal background checks, something Mohave County Sheriff Rom Sheahan disagrees with.

"Universal background checks and a ban on assault weapons and extended ammo magazines is a feel-good measure by anti-gun political leaders in D.C. who are trying to pacify their base. These measures would not have prevented the mass shootings in Tucson, Aurora or Newtown. Enforcing the ban would be impossible and my deputies will not be in the business of taking guns away from law-abiding owners."

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About the Author


Position: Senior News Reporter. Started with KTAR July 4, 1999.

Favorite spots in Arizona: Pinetop-Lakeside, Alpine, Greer.

Have covered some of the biggest stories in Arizona including nine of the top 10 largest wildfires in state history. The Wallow Fire in 2011 became the largest fire in state history. Rodeo-Chediski Fire in June 2002, which is the second largest fire in Arizona. Covered the Yarnell Hill Tragedy in June 2013 that left 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots dead.

Favorite movies: True Grit, both 1969 John Wayne classic and the remake with Jeff Bridges and Lonesome Dove.

Sports Teams: Washington State University Cougars, Texas Longhorns, The University of Montana Grizzlies.

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