President Barack Obama is pushing for tighter gun control rules to deter violence in the United States, but some firearm advocates feel his plans are unnecessary.
Obama recently presented a 10-point plan with goals to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and people who shouldn’t have them through a proposed background check progress. The president described his plan as modest first steps towards tackling gun violence in America.
“Every single year, more than 30,000 Americans have their lives cut short by guns — 30,000,” Obama said. “Suicides. Domestic violence. Gang shootouts. Accidents. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have lost brothers and sisters, or buried their own children. Many have had to learn to live with a disability, or learned to live without the love of their life.”
Don Manley, a member of the Coharie Shooting League and other hunting clubs, is one of many individuals against the measure. In addition to hunting and recreation, Manley said the purpose for owning a gun is for protection.
“I’m not against background checks,” Manley said. “Most hunters and gun owners are not opposed to background checks.”
But he noted that the executive order is not going to change or curb violence and terrorism in the United States.
“The problem is that more and more restrictions only restrict law abiding citizens,” Manley said. “Anybody that wants to get a gun to commit a crime can get it. That’s just the fact of life.”
Also, Manley said it was constitutional right for citizens to own guns.
“If you take everyone’s guns away, there’s no protection,” he said in regards to situations such as home invasions. “Then we’re back to the only people who have guns as the ones who shouldn’t have them to start with.”
When it came to defense and protection, he referenced the 2012 Aurora, Colo. movie theater shooting which killed and injured many.
“If just one of those people had a gun on their hip or in their pocket, they could have pulled out and shot the guy that was shooting everybody and saved a bunch of lives,” Manley said. But everyone is sitting down unarmed and there’s nothing you can do.”
Some of the proposed plans calls for narrowing loopholes so that firearms sold and places such as gun shows, flea markets and even online are subject to background checks; the FBI hiring hundreds of examiners to conduct background checks; and research for technology to reduce accidental shootings. It also includes clarification about who’s in the business of selling guns and who required to get a federal license.
“Anybody in the business of selling firearms must get a license and conduct background checks, or be subject to criminal prosecutions,” Obama said. “It doesn’t matter whether you’re doing it over the Internet or at a gun show. It’s not where you do it, but what you do.”
Instead of hiring new agents, Manley believes the money should be used to place more agents on the street to track down gangs or other criminals, while referring to stronger penalties.
“When they catch someone using a gun or committing a crime, go ahead and make the penalty stiff and stick with it,” he said. “But we don’t do that. People can commit serious crimes with guns and in no time, they’re back on the street.”
According to Associated Press reports, Obama is also asking Congress for $500 million for mental health care. Manley said he was concerned about information he received about doctors having the ability to report mentally ill people.
“That’s a tough issue to tackle – who is and who is not mentally ill,” he said. “I’m not in favor of a doctor having the power to determine if someone is mentally ill.”
Another step is to track lost guns and prevent trusts or corporations from buying dangerous weapons without background checks.
Capt. Eric Pope of the Sampson County Sheriff’s Office said deputies currently conduct weapon permits and background checks for people who would to purchase a pistol. Currently, the department is not affected by the change. If larger firearms are purchased in stores, a criminal check is conducted, before a purchase is made.
“Different states have different regulations on things,” Pope said. “North Carolina pretty much has some safe plans in place.”
Richard Elmore of Big Pawn Guns stated that background checks are already in place for the facility located in Clinton. Like Manley, he believes that criminals don’t need firearms, but somehow they’re going to get one illegally anyway. He added that the background system will not stop terrorist from obtaining guns.
“The law is not what’s going to stop the criminals from having a firearm,” Elmore said. “The criminal background check can help to stop some citizens from being able to purchase a firearm. There’s so many little things that can keep them from getting one.”
Elmore said the federal government is not supposed to keep tabs on people’s firearm purchases.
“So what they do in turn is make the dealer keep their firearm records for them,” he said about the law. “I keep records. Everyone that we sold a gun to is at the government’s disposal anytime they want to look at it. We’ve been doing it.”
As far as the executive order, Elmore said it’s something he’s “totally against.” He believes the president should use it for emergency purposes.
“Our president is using it frivolously,” Elmore said.
He also mentioned possible “small print” matters not being addressed to the public.
During a town hall meeting, Obama answered questions from opponents and supporters. While answering questions from media officials regarding the notion that the government wants to seize all firearms before martial law is imposed. He blamed it on the National Rifle Association (NRA) and other groups with similar organizations that convinces its members that “somebody’s going to come grab your guns.”
“Yes, that is a conspiracy,” Obama said. “I’m only going to be here for another year. When would I have started this enterprise.”
He defended his support for the constitutional right for gun ownership, but argued it was compatible with his efforts to cur mass shootings such as incidents such as Newton, Conn.; San Bernardino, Calif. and Aurora, Colo. Obama said the NRA refused to acknowledge the government’s responsibility to make legal product safer, using seatbelts and child-proof bottles as examples.
According to reports, a CNN/ORC poll shows that the majority of the American public (67 percent) is supportive of the executive actions. But less than half believe the changes will be effective when it comes to reducing gun-related murders.
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.