Law enforcement, in general, favors stricter gun control, but local police commanders say they are looking for common sense ideas and reject the idea of arming teachers or having armed volunteers in schools.
“I like the idea of having more resource police officers in our schools,” said Warwick Chief Col. Stephen McCartney. “If we can get the money for that, I’m all for it, but we can’t afford to do it right now. We don’t have officers or the money.”
At a press conference yesterday, President Barack Obama promised he would take executive action to insure that background checks are thorough and comprehensive if Congress fails to pass meaningful new gun control measures to stem the flow of assault weapons and ammunition across the nation. He asked Congress to reinstate the assault weapons ban that expired in 2004 and allowed assault-style semiautomatic weapons. He is also looking to end the exemption from background checks that occur at gun shows, and large capacity ammunition clips.
In short, the president promised to use any capital he has to convince the majority of Americans that gun violence is a serious problem and the easy access to firearms in this country makes mass murder not just possible, but inevitable, without commonsense gun control.
“Ask your member of Congress if they support universal background checks to keep guns out of the wrong hands,” he said yesterday. “Ask them if they support renewing a ban on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. And if they say no, ask them why not. Ask them what’s more important – doing whatever it takes to get an ‘A’ grade from the gun lobby that funds their campaigns, or giving parents some peace of mind when they drop their child off for first grade?”
Obama argued that the idea of a universal right to bear arms was not what our founding fathers had in mind.
“But we've also long recognized, as our founders recognized, that with rights come responsibilities,” he said, and we have a responsibility to preserve rights that are more important than owning guns.
“The right to worship freely and safely, that right was denied to Sikhs in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. The right to assemble peaceably, that right was denied shoppers in Clackamas, Oregon, and moviegoers in Aurora, Colorado. That most fundamental set of rights to life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness – fundamental rights that were denied to college students at Virginia Tech, and high school students at Columbine and elementary school students in Newtown, and kids on street corners in Chicago on too frequent a basis to tolerate, and all the families who’ve never imagined that they’d lose a loved one to a bullet – those rights are at stake. We’re responsible.”
On a local level, Deputy Chief David DeCesare of the Johnston Police said he would welcome more stringent background checks for gun buyers.
“We have a very comprehensive process of selecting our police officers just because of the authority they have and they carry guns,” said DeCesare. “I think that anyone who wants to own a gun should be subjected to the same level scrutiny as we have for our officers … and I don’t think that’s a threat to anyone’s freedom.”
DeCesare said he doesn’t want to get into an argument about the intentions of our founding fathers, but it is only common sense to realize that they had no idea the kind of weapons that would be available for private citizens.
“These are totally different times,” he said. “They had no idea that one person could wipe out crowds of people with the kind of weapons we have now. As this country grew and things changed, we adapted as we went along. We have to roll with the times and make sense.”
DeCesare said he was personally shocked when he learned that people could walk into gun shows and buy weapons without background checks. He finds it difficult to believe that any citizen needs military grade weapons.
McCartney said he was reserving comment on most of what the president proposed until more details emerge, but he agrees that more scrutiny and control over who can buy certain weapons is necessary.
“I am aware of the arguments about it [gun control] and I’d have to know more about the president’s specific proposals, but I very much agree that there is no legitimate reason to have assault weapons in our city and I’m not comfortable about people having them,” he said.