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Teri Kramer, owner of Kramer’s Guns and Supplies in rural Ladd, talks about the potential changes in gun control laws being discussed in Washington. President Barack Obama presented his goals to curb gun violence Wednesday.
NewsTribune photo/Amanda Whitlock
Obama gun measures face tough road in Congress
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama's sweeping gun-control package faces an uncertain future on Capitol Hill, where majority House Republicans are rejecting his proposals while the president's allies in the Democratic-controlled Senate are stopping well short of pledging immediate action.
The fate of his plan could ultimately hinge on a handful of moderate Democratic senators. Although they are unlikely to endorse the president's call for banning assault weapons, they might go along with other proposals, such as requiring universal background checks on gun purchases.
Several of these senators responded warily after Obama unveiled his proposals Wednesday with the challenge that “Congress must act soon.”
Obama's proposals came a month after the shootings in Newtown, which he has called the worst day of his presidency. His announcements capped a swift and wide-ranging effort, led by Vice President Joe Biden, to respond to the deaths.
The $500 million plan marks the most comprehensive effort to tighten gun laws in nearly two decades. It also sets up a tough political fight with Congress as Obama starts his second term needing Republican support to meet three looming fiscal deadlines and pass comprehensive immigration reform.
“I will put everything I've got into this, and so will Joe,” the president said. “But I tell you, the only way we can change is if the American people demand it.”
Seeking to circumvent at least some opposition, Obama signed 23 executive actions Wednesday, including orders to make more federal data available for background checks and end a freeze on government research on gun violence. But he acknowledged that the steps he took on his own would have less impact than the broad measures requiring approval from Capitol Hill. He is also calling for limiting ammunition magazines to 10 rounds or less.
Despite the uncertainty on Capitol Hill and opposition from the powerful NRA, outside groups are encouraged by polling showing public support for changes to the law. They intend to try to harness that sentiment to pressure lawmakers.
By Jeff Dankert and Matthew Baker NewsTribune Reporters
The Dec. 14 shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., left 26 students and staff dead and sparked a national debate about gun violence followed by a lawmaking debate in Washington. This week President Barack Obama unveiled plans to lessen gun violence such as banning assault weapons, limiting capacity of ammunition magazines and instituting universal background checks. Mark Woodshank, owner of Boomers & Blasters store, has sold guns and ammunition in downtown Peru for about 20 years. Gun control efforts should focus on actions of criminals, mental health of gun owners and parent or guardian oversight of youth, he said. “Not one of these proposals is going to take care of the problem,” Woodshank said. When it comes to guns in public hands, the majority are handguns, Peru police chief Doug Bernabei said. “We do see occasionally semiautomatic assault rifles,” Bernabei said. “They are legal but there are not as many of them out there. The reality is that most assault rifles out there are semiautomatics and not illegal like fully automatic war rifles. To a certain extent I think that people that own AR-15s and other semiautomatics are getting a bad rap. They might look like a war gun but they’re really not. Police don’t even carry fully automatic rifles. Our people are armed with AR-15 semiautomatics with high-capacity 30-round magazines.” In today’s gun vernacular, one person’s assault weapon is another person’s deer rifle, Woodshank says. Although rifles are not allowed for deer in many states including Illinois, the weapon many would describe as an assault weapon is a deer rifle glittered up with assault dressing. Woodshank and Bernabei explained the differences. There are two vast misunderstandings. One, most deer rifles and assault- style rifles have the same operation and firepower. Second, many say no one needs an assault rifle for hunting. In most cases, this is an oxymoron. A deer rifle and assault-style rifle are semiautomatic (one bullet for each pull of the trigger). The most common assault-style rifle is the AR-15 at .223-caliber or the slightly less common but still widespread and larger AR-10 at .308-caliber. Operationally, AR-10s and AR-15s offer no more firepower than the equivalent-caliber deer rifle. Woodshank pointed to a rack of guns in his shop. There were the black-painted assault rifles and wooden-stock hunting rifles. The two fire the same bullet, at the same velocity, at the same rate, he said. Fully automatic rifles, commonly referred to as machine guns and which include the AK-47, fire bursts of bullets by holding the trigger down. These are available only to the military and the public can get one only under very restricted permitting. “I don’t think we need machine guns,” Woodshank said. There is a semiautomatic AK-47, which would be legal for the public to own, not because the law permits AK-47s, but because it allows semiautomatics, Woodshank said. Shortly after politicians and the media began using phrases like gun control and firearm bans, Teri Kramer’s phone began ringing. The phone at her gun shop, Kramer’s Guns and Supplies in rural Ladd, continues to ring nearly every half hour. In particular, callers from around the region are looking to get their hands on ammunition, high-capacity magazines and “military-looking” weapons, she said. “I have never been this busy,” said Kramer, who has operated the store for about 21 years. Kramer sold eight AR-style rifles in a day and a half. Normally, it would take four months to sell as many, she said. The only thing that separates these rifles from basic hunting rifles is they look ready for combat. “It shoots a regular bullet — hunting ammunition,” Kramer said. Bans on particular types of weapons tend to only increase their demand. Many are paying inflated prices on online gun auction websites, Kramer said. For example, she mentioned a man who paid $2,300 for a gun on GunBroker that she would generally sell for just $950. “People are paying astronomical prices for these,” she said. S & S Tool & Die Co., Peru manufactures metal semiautomatic and bolt-action rifle parts mostly for one customer. Bolt action rifles require use of a bolt, or lever, to manually load each cartridge into the chamber. Computer numerical control machines carve the parts out of metal. Gun parts account for about 35 percent of its business. A restriction or ban on semiautomatic rifles would greatly impact their business, said co-owner Mike Turczyn and general manager Bob Miller. “We make parts of the outer portion of the rifle and we make some of the internal workings of the rifle,” Miller said. “If they do all these gun bans it’s going to hurt people like me. It will put a lot of people out of work. It would be considerable hardship.” Miller, too, is a gun enthusiast. He collects guns and target shoots. He hunts deer with archery gear, he said. Turczyn and Miller shake their heads at the public distinction between an assault weapon and a .223 rifle. The assault gun is a “mean” looking version of a standard .223-caliber, Miller said. “It’s the most common gun in America,” he said. “I don’t think the whole gun-owning public should be punished for a couple of people who do the wrong thing." One effort might limit how many cartridges a magazine can carry. A magazine is a metal container loaded with cartridges that can be attached to certain guns. Magazines are often mistakenly called clips, Woodshank said. The idea behind lowering magazine capacity is to limit shooters’ firepower before needing to switch out magazines. Lawmakers are considering limiting magazine capacity to 10, Bernabei said. There is no statewide limit in Illinois on magazine capacity but some cities have limits, Woodshank said. “It doesn’t take you very long to change a magazine to reload a gun,” he said. Kramer said the best argument on behalf of high-capacity magazines is home defense. She shared a story of a woman who shot a home intruder multiple times but didn’t kill him, allowing him the opportunity to flee. “What if there were two intruders?” she said. Kramer may have been remembering the recently reported case in Atlanta, Ga., where a mother shot an intruder five times in the face and neck with a .38-caliber revolver before running out of bullets. The intruder fled and was found by police in a neighboring driveway. Aside from defense purposes, high-capacity magazines may be more convenient for some gun enthusiasts, she said. Someone with lethal intentions could easily carry more than one magazine with fewer than 10 rounds and there are so many high-capacity magazines already available it would almost always be easy for someone to find them, Kramer said. “What effect is the ban going to have?” she said. “The ban is not going to stop any tragedy, unfortunately.” Customers were lining up inside Boomers and Blasters. Jim Jacobs of Granville jumped into the discussion. “When I go out plinking I’d rather load up a 25-round magazine,” he said. Jacobs was looking for mini-14s. These guns shoot the same rounds as the AR guns, he said. “The reason I look for guns is for home protection,” Jacobs said. “If they know you got a gun and a dog they don’t like coming into your place. I’m not really worried about it where I live but there’s always that one crazy (person) out there.” Jacobs rarely hunts, he said. “I’d rather go out target shooting than hunting,” Jacobs said. Most crimes are committed with handguns, Bernabei said. “I’m not an advocate of gun control,” he said. Instead, Bernabei favors “very stiff consequences for those who violate our existing gun laws.” “The bad people are still going to have guns,” he said. Bernabei said he favors tightening up laws to allow keeping guns from the mentally ill separate, much more than trusting a shooter’s word on an application for a firearm permit. “I think there’s got to be some other mechanism out there that when people have mental health issues ... that we have the authority to look a little closer with that person,” he said. Hardened criminals and the mentally-disturbed commit mass gun shootings, Bernabei said. “Taking guns away from you and me is not going to solve any of our problems.” he said. Woodshank, Jacobs and Miller said they are concerned about laws impinging their hobby and right to use guns. “It’s not the weapons that do the damage,” Jacobs said. “It’s the mentality of the person who uses the weapon.”
Posted: Sunday, January 20, 2013
Article comment by:
Yep, it's you.
Those past weapons of history developed out of necessity for DEFENSE more than any desire to "slaughter" more people. When faced with Indians or invading armies a single shot rifle that took half a minute to reload was almost a death sentence. Being able to ward off multiple attackers with something that fired multiple times before reloading was essential to protecting families, towns, and armies. Even though the end result was death, I don't believe they were invented with "slaughtering" in mind.
Yes, coyotes are called predators. Not just by anyone who hunts them but by the folks in the conservation department who regulate such things. Ask anyone who has lost a pet to coyotes to define a predator. Using an AR-15 or any other rifle with a "high powered optical device" (your words, most folks call it a scope) is almost the ONLY way to kill them. They are smart, fast and agile. The TRUE sportsman/hunter wants to make a clean and humane kill on whatever target he has. Generally, he has only one shot. So yes, many people call this "sport". Why do you think the hunting items in stores are found in the Sporting Goods section?
This has nothing to do with my line of work or the work of the millions of other sportsmen in the USA who hunt and kill animals with guns. And I think I have a pretty good handle on reality as well. I'm just a normal citizen who enjoys guns, hunting, shooting, eating wild game I harvest, and doing all of these with friends and family who also enjoy them.
You seem to be of the mindset that guns were "made" only to kill people. Sorry pal. Maybe for the military weapons but in general our rifles, shotguns and handguns were made and developed with hunting and DEFENSE purposes in mind. Not for going out and killing as their first and foremost purpose.
I will agree with you on one thing though. You do need to learn how to spell...
Posted: Saturday, January 19, 2013
Article comment by:
May be ME. But some two hundred years ago the US was thirteen states strong and guns were long, unwieldly mussel loaders. The country grew and a sttreatch of land was bought, not from the people who lived on it, but from a country who took it by force at the point of a gun. Those small bore mussle loaders were not enough to kill asmany as some wanted to, men women and children slaughtered by Henry repeating rifles, big bore guns but they only held seven or eight rounds and so the Winchester came into being, it was a breach loading repeating weapon that held a few more round and slaughtered mor men, women and Kids. The spanish American war was fought about the same time and a large bore long gun was introduced to sto the philipinos a trap door monster that eired a .57 ald projectial powered with a charce of black powder packed in a copper casing as did the Henry. Some sport. How many women and kids could you kill before supper? Sport now. An AR 15 in .223 or .53 sitting on a hill a 14 mi. away sitighting tru a highpowered optical device killing so called predetors that one could almost see with the naked eye. Really? You call that sport? You need a new line of work, get a handle on reality. and I need to learn to spell. I know, I know. BOTTOM LINE, THIS NEVER WAS A PEACFUL COUNTRY POPULATED BY A PEACE LOVING PEOPLE. NOT EVER
Posted: Saturday, January 19, 2013
Article comment by:
As people are nourished with jobs that can support families as well as selling drugs, children are loved and nurtured for who they are, violence is not glorified in the media, movies, video games, sports, and war, and we learn to get to "know" our neighbors and celebrate them, then WE WILL HAVE LESS GUN VIOLENCE. Guns to defend ourselves is a long held tradition of the United States, and without them, over 200 years ago, we would not be a United States. The power has been distorted and misused, and deserves review.
Posted: Friday, January 18, 2013
Article comment by:
This is horrible journalism, from the standpoints of both balance and accuracy. Belongs in the opinion column.
Posted: Friday, January 18, 2013
Article comment by:
There are people that should never be aloud to have guns. The screening process has to be tougher. With the computer systems that we have today, why can't this be made possible ?