A unique caucus of gun owners in the Arizona Democratic Party is working to promote common sense legislation, firearms safety, and marksmanship.
Thomas Prescott, chair of the Gun Owners Caucus, spoke at the Democrats and Donuts monthly meeting on Feb. 20. He gave a brief history of what got him involved in gun rights legislation.
Prescott, a U.S. Navy veteran, became a Republican during the ’90s when the issue of gun control was being hotly debated. He was not a fan of the further gun control that was being pressed by Democrats at the time.
“I believe in the Constitution,” he said. “I believe people should have control over the government, not the other way around. I believe you should be able to protect yourself.”
Prescott worked in the gun industry for a short time. He also worked for the Department of Economic Security and had experience with unions.
“One of the things that always stuck in the back of my head was a few people that I talked to in unions were concerned if they voted for a Democrat they would lose their guns, if they voted for a Republican they’d lose their jobs,” he said. “There was a catch-22.”
Prescott ended up losing everything. He divorced, lost his job, and ended up homeless. When he entered a shelter for homeless veterans and they found out about his experience with unions he was asked to go to the Legislature and share his experience and fight for more funding for veterans.
“I went to talk to Republicans because I was a registered Republican,” he said. “They’d say, ‘Thank you for your service but…’ they could care less. I realized the Republicans didn’t care. Who were the people who did care? Who were the people fighting for my programs, benefits and food stamps? It wasn’t the Republicans.”
Throughout his experience, Prescott came in contact with some Democrats and the more he told his story the more Democrats he found that were also gun owners. He says he became a Democrat for many reasons but that the issue of gun control has always stayed on his mind. His personal goal is to encourage a discussion among Democrats to find a solution to gun violence that both sides can agree on.
It was clear during the meeting on Wednesday that Prescott still faces some disagreement within his own party. He says if people disagree with what’s being done, it’s up to them to get together and find a solution. Personally, he believes the problem is the criminals, not the guns.
“Democrats have always fought for what’s right and what’s equal,” he said. “As I talked with other Democrats that own guns we’ve found there’s some disparity in how far the Second Amendment should go. We’ve had some from the belief that there should be no restrictions on it and others figure there needs to be more changes and laws written.”
Prescott found gun caucuses in many other states and decided to form his own. It takes a minimum of 20 people to form a caucus. The only requirements to enter the caucus are that members must be a registered Democrat and must believe in the Second Amendment.
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