LIMA — The new gun-control measures proposed by President Obama are more about playing politics than they are about finding solutions for keeping children safe. That is the view of law enforcement leaders, a prosecutor and gun-rights supporters after hearing details of Obama's much anticipated gun-control plan following the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Connecticut last month.
“None of the things he is proposing would have prevented something like what happened in Connecticut. This kind of stuff just leads people into a false sense of security,” said Allen County Prosecutor Juergen Waldick. “This is a knee-jerk reaction to a horrible event.”
Lima Police Chief Kevin Martin said the president overlooked the fact there are evil people in the world who will find ways to kill, whether it be with guns, bombs or bricks.
“Even if you could theoretically remove every gun from the United States, evil people will find ways to commit evil acts,” Martin said.
Obama's plan includes a ban on “assault weapons,” a term used to describe certain semi-automatic rifles. The president also wants to limit to 10 the number of rounds that magazines can hold. Both ideas would require Congress to pass laws.
Allen County Sheriff Sam Crish fears the president wants to start an effort to take guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens. “Ultimately, he’s trying to ban weapons all together. Banning weapons is not the answer. The law abiding citizens will have no way of defending themselves,” Crish said. “That’s wrong.”
Twenty-six people died in the massacre, including 20 children.
Waldick believes the president is using the tragedy to further his agenda to ban all guns, something many citizens also fear.
“It has been my experience that this is a slippery slope. Once we ban weapons and start to register weapons, banning all firearms is not far off,” Waldick said.
The president wants all gun sales — even between private individuals — to include a background check for the buyer, something local law enforcement leaders said would be impossible to enforce. Background checks already are mandatory at retail outlets.
Obama issued 23 executive orders that include enforcing existing laws, tougher penalties for people who lie on background checks and money for school resource officers, if school systems want an officer.
Steve Farmer, a police firearms trainer and concealed carry instructor with Insight Firearms Training Development, said the president is playing politics with the safety of children and the rest of the public. He pointed out the president said guns don’t belong in schools, yet he sends his children to a school that has armed guards on top of Secret Service agents guarding his children.
“Why not our children? Are our children any less important?” Farmer said.
Tri-State Gun Collectors President Terry Morgan, whose organization holds the local gun shows at the Allen County Fairgrounds, agrees with the “slippery slope” argument.
“This has nothing to do with controlling guns, this is about power,” Morgan said. “This is about the slippery slope toward socialism.”
Morgan said he opposes the president’s push to ban “assault weapons,” which he said is a political phrase invented to scare people.
He said semi-auto rifles are rarely used in crimes.
Waldick, Crish and Martin agreed.
Waldick said he does not remember a single incident an AR15 rifle was used in a crime. That weapon is one of the weapons the president refers to as an “assault weapon.”
Martin said handguns are overwhelmingly the choice of criminals.
Waldick said criminals will always have access to guns.
“I can’t remember one gun crime committed in this county that was by someone who obtained a gun legally. I can’t remember. There may be one, but I can’t remember it,” he said.
“They can’t keep weapons out of the hands of criminals any more than they can keep drugs out of the hands of people,” Farmer said.
The president is calling his measures a “common sense approach” to curbing gun violence. Police leaders, Waldick and the two gun rights advocates said plans, for example, to limit the number of rounds a magazine can hold will not stop someone from carrying additional magazines and reloading.
“Common sense is about having the means to self defense. The only way to stop a crazed person with a gun, when it comes to that moment, is through armed self defense,” Farmer said.
Farmer said if the principal or a teacher in Connecticut had been armed, willing and properly trained the killer could have been stopped before any children died. Farmer said it’s no coincidence the Sandy Hook shooting and several other high-profile shootings happened in no gun zones where guns were not allowed.
“You take away people’s rights to arm themselves, this will lead to more victims,” Farmer said.
Obama 'playing politics' with gun-control plan