Universal Background Checks? Agreed, but Other Gun-Control Orders Get Mixed Reviews

Yahoo Contributor Network
President Barack Obama, accompanied by Vice President Joe Biden, gestures as he talks about proposals to reduce gun violence, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, in the South Court Auditorium at the White House in Washington.  (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
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President Barack Obama, accompanied by Vice President Joe Biden, gestures as he talks about proposals to reduce gun violence, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, in the South Court Auditorium at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

The White House on Wednesday unveiled 23 executive orders geared toward decreasing gun violence in the United States. Yahoo News asked readers, many of them gun owners, for reaction to President Obama's plan. Here are excerpts from perspectives they shared.

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Gun control must reflect even emotions: Barack Obama is correct in stating that there must be a universal background check done on anyone who wishes to own a gun in America. He is also correct in stating that there should be stricter laws, and enforcement of laws, that deal with gun-trafficking and sales.

It is sad that it takes a tragedy on the scale of Sandy Hook to make people realize this. While I have no desire to own an assault-style weapon, and quite frankly don't understand why anyone needs to have one, I think that the right to bear arms is a very important one and I disagree with those who say that the Founding Fathers were speaking only of muskets. They were speaking of having a weapon comparable to what is prevalent. It is useless to have a militia bringing muskets to a fight against M-16s.

Nearly each day I drive through Newtown and still feel the pain from December, a pain which may never go away. However, as is often the case, when responding to a crisis, people can overreact and demand remedies that are appealing now but might be seen in a different light when emotions are more even.

-- Morris Armstrong, Danbury, Conn.

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A positive approach for children: As a mom and an educator, I strongly agree with his proposed plan to work to stop bullying in schools and enhance mental health support systems and treatment. Increasing school counselors and teacher training are important to prevent school tragedies.

I am not a strong supporter of armed guards or police on my school campus, and would rather support Obama's proposal that individual school districts have access to federal funds to decide how to best protect their school communities.

Six out of 10 Americans want stricter gun control, and I believe that by listening to the people of America, President Obama's gun control proposals are positive steps to make our country safer, and to create a less violent future for our children.

-- Jennifer Wolfe, Davis, Calif.

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Obama missteps on doctor, clip provisions: When President Obama unveiled his gun-control measures today, I agreed with some, specifically requiring universal background checks. I also agreed with other steps, such as more stringent requirements to report threats of violence, more money for schools to hire resource officers, more funding for mental illness and to hire more cops. I did not, however, agree with his call for doctors to ask patients about the number of guns in their homes, or his call for Congress to reinstate the ban on military-style assault weapons and clips that hold more than 10 rounds. I believe this violates the Constitution.

To me, and others, the Second Amendment is not about the right to hunt or target-shoot; it is about our right to defend ourselves, our loved ones and our property. For those who say there is never any reason to own a semi-automatic weapon, I would say that you've never needed to defend your life from a criminal. Anyone who has can tell you that you may very well need more than 10 rounds to stop them.

-- Lyn Brooks, Roanoke, Va.

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As a gun owner, I agree we need gun control: The background check loophole is big enough to drive a truck through. As a gun owner myself, I want to make it harder for criminals to get weapons. Gun store owners should applaud tighter background checks and licensing. They can better compete with the gun sellers that use loopholes in the existing laws to avoid licensing requirements. Registering all future gun sales will make it easier to track guns that fall into the wrong hands and get used in criminal activity. A new ban on rifles classified as assault weapons will not make owning one illegal. All existing weapons will be "grandfathered" in, just as they were in the 1994 ban that was allowed to expire.

America is awash with guns that are too easily obtained by the mentally ill and criminals. When it is easier to exercise your constitutional right to own guns than it is to exercise your constitutional right to vote, something is wrong with our system. We need to stop the hysteria and start conversing as rational adults.

-- Gable Rhoads, Indiana

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Obama takes aim at irresponsible laws: President Obama's proposals for increased gun control are necessary and common-sense steps to reduce the chances of firearms getting into the hands of unstable, violent or otherwise unsuitable individuals. While tragedies like those that occurred in Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Colo., remind us of the need for stricter gun regulation, they alone are not the reason for enacting it.

Despite the protests of the gun lobby, Obama's proposals, such as universal background checks even for private gun sales and a limit to how many bullets can be held in magazine, do not deny anyone their Second Amendment rights. Other amendments in the Bill of Rights, such as the rights to free speech and from unreasonable search and seizure, have been modified over the years to better protect the public interest. Why does the Second Amendment stand alone among all other American rights as immune?

-- Dan Berthiaume, Haverhill, Mass.

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Gun violence proposals come up short: The president seemed preoccupied with using emotion to generate public support to achieve his aims by having several children in the background during his remarks. He referred to our nation's youngest citizens specifically by saying, "When it comes to protecting the most vulnerable among us, we must act now."

However, after reading through the executive actions the president signed, I see only one that could have a measurable effect on reducing gun violence: universal background checks for gun purchases. The number of guns bought now without background checks could be as high as 40 percent, according to CNN. It seems to me that all such transactions, including those at gun shows, should require the same background checks.

But other proposals from the president, like limiting ammunition clips to no more than 10 bullets, or funding government research into violent video games and movies and potential links to gun violence, will have little or no bearing on combating the problem.

-- Patrick Hattman Parkersburg, W.V.

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There is a problem; this isn't a solution: As I listened to the speech, I was angry that because of a few people's horrendous deeds, I am being asked to sacrifice some of my freedoms.

As a Democrat from the rural community of Walsenburg, Colo., many of my views are similar to that of the president's, but as a responsible gun owner from a family of responsible gun owners, I don't see how this plan makes me safe. According to the FBI, more people were murdered with hands and fists (728) in 2011 than were with rifles (323); I understand we have a problem in our country right now, but I don't understand how Obama's approach solves it. Then again, maybe we as a people are no longer capable of freedom; maybe we do need more laws and regulations placed upon us. As Benjamin Franklin said, "Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters."

-- Chris Reiners, Walsenburg, Colo.

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Obama wants to ban assault weapons; what are those, exactly?: The dictionary says the word "assault" is a violent attack. Would this not make any firearm an assault weapon? Can a single-shot rifle or shotgun not inflict the same damage as a military-style semi-automatic rifle with a 10-plus-round clip? How did they come up with the number less than 10 rounds?

The measures that Obama is proposing will only hinder law-abiding citizens as street criminals do not purchase their toys from federally licensed firearms dealers. So in effect, the White House will continue to punish citizens who pass an extensive criminal background check, and legally purchase, use, secure and store firearms and ammunition, all the while making no mention of those who should not be allowed to carry a firearm in the first place -- the criminal element of our society.

-- Christopher Davis, Hanford, Calif.

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