The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

January 11, 2013

Sticking to their guns

Activists, supporters dig in for continued debate

By Rebecca Croomes

ATHENS — To bear arms, or ban arms; that is the question.

On Wednesday, Vice President Joe Biden told reporters that President Barack Obama could use executive privileges to alter gun control.

But, taking a step back, it appears that even though Biden did not explicitly say that an executive order would be drawn up and enforced, even the implication of such action had critics double-checking the Constitution.

Congressman Mo Brooks said he was not prepared to give comment on the situation, because it was still in the ‘general’ stages, but assured that the system of checks and balances was still in order.

“The president can only issue executive orders that assist with enforcement of federal statutes passed by Congress,” Brooks said. “No president has the lawful power to make law on his own. It’ll be interesting to compare the president’s executive order with existing federal statutes to determine if the executive order complies with or violates gun control statutes.”

After the Sandy Hook school shooting on Dec. 14, Obama gave an emotional speech vowing to overhaul weapons policy. Since then, other lawmakers and advocates have stepped up to offer a variety of solutions to combat mass shootings.

This week it was announced former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, a gun owner and gun violence victim herself, and her husband Mark Kelly founded Americans for Responsible Solutions, a coalition for considerate gun control.

“Forget the boogeyman of big, bad government coming to dispossess you of your firearms,” Giffords and Kelly wrote Tuesday in an opinion piece for USA Today. “As a Western woman and a Persian Gulf War combat veteran who have exercised our Second Amendment rights, we don't want to take away your guns any more than we want to give up the two guns we have locked in a safe at home. What we do want is what the majority of NRA members and other Americans want: responsible changes in our laws to require responsible gun ownership and reduce gun violence.”

Reuters news agency reported yesterday that Biden and the president’s gun task force would have recommendations for Obama by Tuesday. Biden told reporters that multiple agencies were involved in coming up with the recommendations, like hunter’s groups and survivors of mass shootings, as well as the presidential cabinet and the attorney general.

But no matter what, Biden said Obama would take some kind of action.

Specifically, Reuters reported, the task force will recommend changes to the system of background checks of people looking to buy guns and a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines.

A non-partisan rally is planned for Saturday, Jan. 19, on the Square at 9 a.m. to demonstrate support for the Bill of Rights, especially the Second Amendment, according to gun rights supporters at Bradford’s Pawn & Gun.

Owner Bobby Reasonover has been selling guns and ammo on an accelerated level since the Sandy Hook shooting, but Reasonover said gun sales nationwide began increasing in 2008. Once a gun shop might carry only a limited number of brands and models, but now manufacturers are taking longer to refill orders because of the high demand.

“It’d be better if we had something to sell,” Reasonover said when asked how his business was doing.

At the gun store, Reasonover and company said that instead of gun laws, the government should focus on revamping mental health care.

Gun supporters and activists alike took to cyberspace immediately after Biden’s comments to renew efforts to convince someone, anyone, anywhere, that stricter gun control in the United States may or may not be the solution to mass shooting violence.

Until the president acts, the gun control question remains open-ended, but something is on the horizon.