Joyce Marie Taylor, Bryant Thigpen
Live Oak —
The possibility of revamped, stricter federal gun control laws has large numbers of both proponents and opponents speaking out across the country, including local law enforcement officials.
The incident that ultimately sparked President Obama’s call to reign in gun control was the Dec. 14, 2012, Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy where Adam Lanza broke into the school and began shooting. Within minutes, 20 first graders – 6 and 7-year-olds – and six staff members were killed.
That afternoon, the president addressed the tragedy from the White House and two days later at a prayer vigil in Newtown he said we couldn’t tolerate this kind of tragedy anymore. He announced it was time to take meaningful action to reduce gun violence in America.
“If there is even one step we can take to save another child, or another parent, or another town, from the grief that has visited Tucson, and Aurora, and Oak Creek, and Newtown, and communities from Columbine to Blacksburg before that -- then surely we have an obligation to try,” he said.
Local law enforcement officials have stated their stance on the issue.
“I do think the Second Amendment should be protected,” stated Suwannee County Sheriff Tony Cameron. “Don’t need to tamper with it at all.”
Cameron said that no law is going to come out saying that we have to gather up all the guns. He did say there should be at least one restriction, however.
When asked about semiautomatic firearms, Cameron said banning those won’t stop any violence.
“Whether you have a seven round or 30 round, they’re so easily changed, it’s not going to stop any violence,” he said.
Live Oak Police Chief Buddy Williams agrees.
“I am an avid gun collector and I am proud to have gun rights,” Williams said. “Something he (President Obama) discussed was universal background checks. I have no problem with that. But I don’t want him to mess with our guns at all.”
“It doesn’t matter how many laws or bans you put in place, people are going to break the law and there’s nothing you can do about that,” Williams said.
Williams said that while guns have been used to commit crimes, they’re not the only source used.
“There are more means to commit an act of violence besides guns,” he said. “Statistics show that. There’s many things out there that can be used as weapons to commit violent crimes.”
What Williams fears is that the president’s policy will have a snowball effect. “It starts out small and it snowballs into something bigger into possibly banning all guns,” said Williams.
“Don’t get me wrong, I do oppose gun violence,” he said. “But I’m not for strict gun laws. I don’t want (noone) messing with our guns.”
The president said he believes most gun owners are responsible and law-abiding, and they use their guns safely. He also strongly believes that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms, but to better protect our children and communities from tragic mass shootings there are common-sense steps we can take right now.
Five days after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, the president announced that Vice President Joe Biden would lead the effort to develop a set of concrete policy proposals for reducing gun violence. Biden solicited input from citizens and organizations with a wide range of concerns, perspectives and opinions while preparing his recommendations.
In addition to Biden’s meetings and discussions in Washington, people from around the country joined the conversation about preventing gun violence by signing We the People petitions on the White House web site. On Jan. 15, Biden delivered his policy proposals to the president, who then signed 23 executive orders on Jan. 16, to help keep guns out of the wrong hands, make schools safer and increase access to mental health services.
Meanwhile the National Rifle Association, numerous law enforcement officials and many American citizens are “up in arms” about the sweeping changes being considered to gun control laws.