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Reaction came swiftly after President Barack Obama launched the biggest U.S. gun-control push in generations last week. Among the items being sought by the President was Congressional action to approve an assault weapons ban and background checks for all gun buyers to prevent mass shootings like the Newtown school massacre.
His proposals will set up a clash with the powerful U.S. gun lobby and its supporters in Congress, who will resist what they see as an encroachment on constitutionally protected gun rights.
The National Rifle Association issued the following statement: “Throughout its history, the National Rifle Association has led efforts to promote safety and responsible gun ownership. Keeping our children and society safe remains our top priority. The NRA will continue to focus on keeping our children safe and securing our schools, fixing our broken mental health system, and prosecuting violent criminals to the fullest extent of the law. We look forward to working with Congress on a bi-partisan basis to find real solutions to protecting America’s most valuable asset – our children.
Attacking firearms and ignoring children is not a solution to the crisis we face as a nation. Only honest, law-abiding gun owners will be affected and our children will remain vulnerable to the inevitability of more tragedy.”
Obama presented his agenda at a White House event in front of an audience that included relatives of some of the 20 first-graders who were killed along with six adults by a gunman on December 14 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Others attending included children who had written the President following the Newtown shootings.
“We can’t put this off any longer,” Obama said, vowing to use “whatever weight this office holds” to make his proposals reality.
The agenda is now expected to spark as much debate along with debt and spending fights with Congress.
His plan calls on Congress to renew a prohibition on assault weapons sales that expired in 2004, require criminal background checks on all gun purchases, including closing a loophole for gun show sales, and pass a new federal gun trafficking law – long sought by big-city mayors to keep out-of-state guns off their streets.
He also announced 23 steps he intends to take immediately without congressional approval. These include improving the existing system for background checks, lifting the ban on federal research on gun violence, putting more counselors and “resource officers” in schools and better access to mental health services.
Obama signed three of the measures at the ceremony.
The most controversial piece of the package is Obama’s call for a renewed ban on military-style assault weapons. Law enforcement experts have noted, however, that the tighter background checks that Obama is proposing would not have prevented the Connecticut school massacre because the gunman’s weapon was purchased legally by his mother.
Missouri Republican leaders were also quick to respond.
“As the father of a young son and the grandfather to six young children, I was outraged and saddened by the Sandy Hook shooting,” said Roy Blunt. “Unfortunately, the president’s proposals today fundamentally fail to address ways that we can prevent tragic events like Sandy Hook, and instead, he’s attempting to restrict the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans.
“We need to have a serious national discussion about preventing senseless acts of violence and protecting our children in their schools, and that should include finding ways to spend federal dollars more wisely when it comes to treating and identifying people who are mentally ill, and ensuring that we intervene before they do something that tragically impacts their lives and the lives of others.”
Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, 3rd District Congressman who represents Lincoln County said: “I am disappointed by the president’s remarks and actions today. The Administration’s decision to circumvent the elected representatives of the American people is surely not the right way to approach an issue of constitutional significance. It would be more productive to have a thoughtful, national discussion on how to better determine when young people are becoming troubled, how to get them back on the right path, and what causes an individual to commit an evil, violent act. We need to focus on getting to the root of these questions, rather than focusing on the instruments that disturbed individuals have misused and abused to carry out heinous crimes.”
Some local residents commented about the proposals interacting on The Lincoln County Facebook.
Tommy Cissell (disagrees with proposal): “Not a chance. It’s like banning SUVs because when a drunk driver gets behind the wheel, it can cause more damage. And historically, gun bans make the crime rate go UP…”
Diane Newquist Parson: Prov. 17:26 (The Message): “It’s wrong to penalize good behavior, or make good citizens pay for the crimes of others.”