Locals react to Obama's plan to curb gun violence
Posted January 16, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — The battle over gun control moved front and center in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday with President Barack Obama saying he'll do whatever it takes to reduce gun violence.
Obama signed 23 executive orders on gun control and called on Congress to pass a number of measures, including a ban on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines and universal background checks.
But at Fuquay Gun & Gold in Fuquay-Varina, the president's announcement caused concern among gun-rights proponents, who say some of the measures do nothing but take away Second Amendment rights from law-abiding citizens.
"The bad guys are not going to stop having them, whether the president bans them or not," gun owner Cindy Rosipko said.
Opponents said their biggest concern is not only the assault weapons ban but the proposal to limit magazines to 10 rounds.
"It will slow down the sale of a rifle, for sure, if folks aren't allowed to get high-capacity magazines," shop owner Clay Ausley said. "The gun's not going to be as nearly as desirable with a 10-round magazine."
Although he's been busy in recent weeks as customers, concerned that their gun rights will be violated, line up to buy assault rifles, Ausley says they are generally not a big part of his business.
Weapons accessories are, he says, and business would likely suffer with a ban.
"There are flip-up sites, electronic sites, magnifiers, slings – tons of accessories that we sell to clients," he said.
If people can't buy the guns, there's no need for them to buy the accessories, he says.
But Ausley and others at his store are in favor of universal background checks, which are already part of sales by registered gun dealers. They do not apply to private gun sales.
Gun owners say they believe the gun violence debate has been unfairly framed around the Newtown, Conn., school shooting.
"It's a very emotional topic for a lot of people especially with children being killed in the mix," said gun owner Mike Cirioli. "Emotions sometimes speak louder than rational thought for a lot of people."
Republicans from North Carolina's congressional delegation agree.
Sen. Richard Burr released a statement Wednesday afternoon, pledging to fight any efforts that infringe on the Second Amendment.
"I am open to having a conversation about ways in which our nation can address mental health issues and reduce violence, but I will not stand by while the president and others try to restrict the rights of law-abiding American citizens," Burr said.
Rep. Renee Ellmers echoed Burr, adding that she believes Obama is "exploiting a tragedy for political gain and eroding our constitutional rights for the sake of an extreme liberal agenda."
North Carolina Democrats, however, say they support Obama's plan.
Rep. Melvin Watt called it a "comprehensive and common-sense series of administrative and legislative proposals."
"I can see nothing in my quick review that causes me to react in any way other that positively," he said in a statement.
Rep. David Price, who is a vice chairman on the House Democrats' Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, called the recommendations "carefully crafted."
Sen. Kay Hagan she will look at the president's proposals with an open mind and work toward "a comprehensive approach that ensures our communities are safe" while "respecting the rights of responsible gun owners."
Obama's plan goes beyond gun control. Among the executive orders he signed Wednesday is to address legal barriers in health laws that bar some states from making available information about people who are prohibited from having guns. He also signed orders that ensure young people get needed mental health treatment and that insurance plans cover mental health benefits.
The plan also provides improvements in school safety and better support to law enforcement agencies across the country.
Heads of many local law enforcement agencies declined to comment on Obama's recommendations, saying it is too political or too early to know the ramifications. But many, including Spring Lake Police Chief Troy McDuffie, agreed on preservation of the Second Amendment.
"I'm not against a person's right to bear arms," he said.
Despite concerns, recent national polls show support for legislative proposals that the president placed before Congress.
A weekend poll from the Pew Research Center found 55 percent of Americans support renewing the ban on military-style assault weapons, and 54 percent approve of a ban on high-capacity ammunition clips. It also found that 85 percent of Americans agree with background checks before buying a gun.
A new Associated Press-GfK poll had similar results. Nearly 60 percent of Americans want stricter gun laws. Three-quarters of Americans said they reacted to the Connecticut shooting with deep anger, while 54 percent said they felt deeply ashamed it could happen in the United States.
The poll also shows that 51 percent said they believed laws limiting gun ownership infringe on the public's right to bear firearms.