By Joy Hampton
Norman Transcript / CNHI News Service
NORMAN, Okla. —
President Barack Obama’s gun plan, released today, drew mixed response from Oklahoma lawmakers.
The plan proposes executive orders to deal with the tragedy of gun violence and calls for Congress to enact legislation to strengthen current gun laws.
Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, said most of the president’s planned executive orders are common-sense changes that are within the president’s current powers to implement. Those include:
• Launching a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign.
• Providing law enforcement, first responders and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations.
• Maximizing enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecuting gun crime.
• Launching a national dialogue led by secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health.
However, the president also has called on Congress to enact laws against assault weapons and to close loopholes in background check requirements.
“I will adamantly oppose any executive order that I believe infringes upon duly enacted laws by the Congress or on our Constitutional rights,” Inhofe said. “Where I do disagree with the President is on his recommendations for laws Congress should pass.
“We know from experience that an assault weapons ban will have no meaningful effect on gun violence, as many of the changes that are implemented by a such a ban are cosmetic in nature. Statistics demonstrate that a ban on particular weapons will not significantly decrease crime. Such a ban will, however, significantly decrease our rights guaranteed by the Constitution.”
Congressman Tom Cole, R-Moore, agrees.
“I will oppose any legislation to limit the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans, including a ban on so-called assault weapons,” Cole said. “I represent tens of thousands of responsible gun owners who safely use guns for hunting and protection, and restricting their freedom is not the solution to gun violence.”
Loopholes the president wants to close regarding background checks include private sales by people exempt from the federal requirement created by the Brady Act.
Studies estimate nearly 40 percent of all gun sales are made by private sellers who are exempt from the background check requirement, according to information released in the gun plan.
“A national survey of inmates found that only 12 percent of those who used a gun in a crime acquired it from a retail store or pawn shop, where a background check should have been run,” according to the President’s plan.
New legislation could close that loophole by requiring background checks on all gun sales, except limited cases like transfers between family members.
The president wants military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines banned and off the streets.
A 2010 survey by the Police Executive Research Forum connects an increase in criminal use of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines with the 2004 expiration of a ban on those weapons. Obama wants that ban reinstated and strengthened.
“The shooters in Aurora and Newtown used the type of semiautomatic rifles that were the target of the assault weapons ban that was in place from 1994 to 2004. That ban was an important step, but manufacturers were able to circumvent the prohibition with cosmetic modifications to their weapons. Congress must reinstate and strengthen the prohibition on assault weapons,” the gun plan states.
The plan would limit ammunition magazines to 10 rounds. The shooters at Virginia Tech, Tucson, Aurora, Oak Creek and Newtown all used magazines that held more than 10 rounds.
Those were prohibited under the 1994 law but have become standard on many handguns and rifles.
Obama wants more serious punishments for gun trafficking and to confirm a director for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. In addition, the president is calling on Congress to act on the administration’s “$4 billion proposal to help keep 15,000 cops on the street in cities and towns across the country.”