By Russell Hixson
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Payne County Sheriff R.B. Hauf isn’t sure additional restrictions on gun sales will reduce gun violence, while a gun show owner is sure requiring background checks to sell guns at shows and private sales won’t keep guns from criminals.
Wednesday, President Barack Obama outlined a sweeping proposal to reduce gun violence in the United States. He will press Congress to pass universal background checks for gun sales and ban the sale of military-style assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines like the ones used in the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., and the movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colo.
“I think the government could impose whatever restrictions it wants, the criminals are going to continue not to follow the laws,” Hauf said.
Obama used executive orders to enact 23 measures that don’t require the backing of Congress. The president’s actions include ordering federal agencies to make more data available for background checks, appointing a director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and directing the Centers for Disease Control to research gun violence.
The president also sought improvements in school safety, including putting 1,000 police officers in schools and bolstering mental health care by training more health professionals to deal with young people who may be at risk.
Hauf was more optimistic about these actions which would help schools bolster their emergency response plans.
“Training is a plus no matter what, whether it’s school officials or first responders,” he said.
Other measures Obama wants Congress to take up include limiting high-capacity ammunition magazines and requiring background checks for all gun buyers in an attempt to close the so-called “gun-show loophole” that allows people to buy guns at trade shows and over the Internet without submitting to background checks.
David Osborne, owner of Super Dave’s Gun Shows, is against the proposed legislation on gun shows. One of Osborne’s gun shows is scheduled at the Payne County Expo Center in February.
“The problem is not gun shows,” Osborne said. He said there are many laws concerning guns and gun shows but they are not properly enforced.
“If these existing laws were enforced, I think it would take care of many of the problems,” Osborne said.
The real problem isn’t guns, Osborne said, it’s that Americans live in a “violent society.” He said the mentally ill and criminals are already not allowed to have guns so more laws are unlikely to help. He called the proposed legislation “feel good laws” so politicians can act like something is being done.
The president’s plan does little to address violent images in video games, movies and entertainment, beyond asking the CDC to study their impact on gun crimes. Some pro-gun lawmakers who are open to addressing stricter arms legislation have insisted they would do so only in tandem with recommendations for addressing violence in entertainment.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.