Local law enforcement, gun shops react to Obama’s gun control proposal

Published 1:59 pm Saturday, January 9, 2016

President Barack Obama on Tuesday announced his new strategy to reduce gun violence in America. Among other measures, his proposal focuses on new background check requirements and greater education and enforcement efforts of existing laws at the state level.

“We are the only advanced country on Earth that sees this kind of mass violence erupt with this kind of frequency,” Obama said as he stood at the White House surrounded by a group of people who are the victim of or have lost loved ones to gun violence. “It doesn’t happen in other advanced countries. It’s not even close.”

The plan would require any business that engages in the sale of guns to obtain a federal license to do so and conduct background checks, but it won’t have an effect on local guns shops.

“We are already federally required to run universal background checks,” said Dawn Doxey of Doxey Firearms in Courtland. “It would not change anything for the sale of legal firearms. It will, however, affect non-licensed sellers, particularly those at gun shows. They don’t have licenses, but can sell used guns because they’re considered private sellers. They don’t have the means to conduct background checks.”

Isle of Wight Sheriff Mark Marshall said that the current law’s ambiguity is why he publicly supports Obama’s proposal. He also confirmed Doxey’s statement.

“The rationale is that those people who are expressly prohibited by law from buying guns should not have a glaring loophole they could potentially walk through to purchase a firearm,” Marshall said. “That is what exists at gun shows. Any other reputable dealer is required to do background checks.”

Mike Miller of South Eastern Armament Company LLC in Windsor does not believe the proposal is as cut and dry as others.

“I’m afraid it’s not going to make any difference until they start enforcing laws on the books,” he said. “As for private sales, that means [the customers] come to me to do transfers. There is no loophole. Private sales are always legal. The issue they are trying to close is, basically, straw purchases.”

According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, a straw purchase occurs when the actual buyer of a firearm uses another person to execute the paperwork necessary to purchase said firearm from a federally licensed dealer. This “represents a significant overall crime and public safety problem,” the ATF’s website said.

“There’s no legitimate way to track them,” Miller added.

Another component to Obama’s proposal asks the attorney general to encourage federal attorneys to work with state and local authorities and groups to increase prevention of domestic violence and to prevent prohibited persons from obtaining firearms. Capt. Tim Whitt of the Franklin Police Department did not share his thoughts on the plan, but instead offered the following statement.

“Any laws enacted by those empowered to do so, whether at the local, state or federal level, we will enforce fairly and impartially,” Whitt said.

Miller, meanwhile, said the Second Amendment protects citizens from its government having too much control.

“The people that buy and carry legally, they’re not the people you need to worry about,” he said.

Obama, in his emotional speech on Tuesday, essentially argued that statement, and said, “There are other rights that we care about, as well, and we have to be able to balance them. Because our right to worship freely and safely — that right was denied to Christians in Charleston, South Carolina; and that was denied Jews in Kansas City; and that was denied Muslims in Chapel Hill, and Sikhs in Oak Creek. They had rights, too.”