Stark County residents reacted Wednesday to President Barack Obama’s proposal to ban military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
Standing at the gun counter at Fin, Feather & Fur Outfitters, Russ Dizdar of North Canton wondered aloud about the consequences of the military-style assault weapons ban proposed Wednesday by President Barack Obama.
“Will it bring on a civil war?” he said as he searched for a new shotgun along a crowded counter. “There’s a lot of animosity right now, a lot of fear. Just because of the stuff today, the executive orders. It’s going to border on a battle politically.”
On Wednesday, President Barack Obama called on lawmakers to ban military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines of more than 10 rounds and require background checks for all sales — not just those by federally licensed firearms dealers.
The Obama administration has called for stricter gun regulations in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., tragedy, while such gun-rights advocates as the National Rifle Association have proposed arming teachers and school administrators. The debate also has included discussion of the mental health system and the role of violence in movies and video games.
GUN OWNERS SPEAK
Dizdar, a former chaplain for the University of Akron Police Department, mentioned a series of young men by their first names — Jared, James and Adam — referencing the gunmen in Tucson, Ariz., Aurora, Colo. and Newtown, Conn.
“They (government) should spend time on how they got their weapons,” Dizdar said. “The focus is wrong. It’s the left taking the opportunity, and I don’t think it’s going to work. There’s too many people so dyed in the wool, committed to the Constitution that feel this is a violation of what America is all about. I just don’t think people are going to give up.”
Dizdar said he agrees that universal background checks should be part of the solution toward curbing gun violence. He also said parents and others who keep guns should face tougher fines for not keeping them properly secured.
Ron Jansen of North Canton was stocking up on ammunition Wednesday, but only because supplies have been short throughout the area lately. Jansen said the shortage could be a precursor of things to come.
“There’s a lot of scared people,” he said. “I don’t know if what (Obama) did is actually going to solve the problem. It’s not the good people you have the problem with. It’s the bad people and the ability to have access. There’s the black market where there’s guns available — a lot of places that are not going to be regulated. It’s a Band-Aid on a big problem.”
Jansen doesn’t own — or want to own — any of the military-style assault weapons that would be banned under the president’s proposal.
“I’m a sportsman, and I enjoy hunting,” he said. “I have a couple of firearms, and I’ve had them for years. But to restrict those (military-style assault weapons), you’re going to be walking on people’s rights.”
Page 2 of 2 - Dan Dycus and Chad Drinnon of Canton were preparing for a hunting trip Wednesday, an hour after listening to Obama’s proposal. They said there’s no reason anyone should own a military-style assault weapon, like the AR-15.
“I don’t see the purpose of a high-round magazine for civilians,” Dycus said. “Even competitions — I don’t know a whole lot about them — but I don’t know if there is a competition where you get 20 to 30 rounds out. Usually they are more for accuracy.
“If they want to put some type of qualifications for high-round magazines for someone who’s not in law enforcement, I wouldn’t have a problem with that.”
OTHERS WEIGH IN
Gun owners were not the only ones paying close attention to the president’s announcement.
Beverly Jordan of the Stark County Social Workers Network, which offers family resources, youth mentoring and support for those reentering society after incarceration, said lawmakers need to curb handgun violence and bolster funding for mental health care.
“Handgun violence is what we really need to deal with,” Jordan said. “It’s the day-to-day violence that has become common and accepted that is bigger than the mass shootings. My heart goes out to those people, don’t get me wrong.”
Jordan said a gun ban won’t serve the people it is meant to help unless funding for mental health is a major component.
“A lot of the people who have (mental health) issues, are involved in crimes and have guns aren’t the ones who are going to make an appointment or keep it,” she said, referring to the agency. “To me, making that funding available and keeping it is very important.”
Canton Police Chief Bruce Lawver said he supports any ban that falls “within Constitutional bounds.” Lawver said the Assault Weapons Ban that was enacted in 1994 and expired in 2004 didn’t seem to have a significant impact on gun violence, which in inner cities is mostly the result of handguns.
“This seems to be a much more comprehensive approach,” he said.