Texans react to Obama's gun proposal

The Fort Worth Star-TelegramJanuary 17, 2013 

— Jim Williams isn't sure that President Barack Obama's proposed gun law changes will work.

He sees pros and cons in the plan, which includes calling on Congress to create a universal background check for anyone trying to buy a gun and to restore the ban on military-style assault weapons and on high-capacity ammunition magazines.

"Something has to be done. There's no doubt," said Williams, 60, a Vietnam veteran and Fort Worth gun owner who was shopping at Elk Castle Shooting Sports on Wednesday.

"But Congress can't get together to pay our bills, much less go up against the NRA."

More than that, he said, the move will simply take guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens.

"Criminals are still going to have theirs," he said. "They are going to get their stuff either way."

Others said Obama's plan -- which also includes 23 executive actions -- is a step in the right direction.

"There's a time to act and this is the time," said Marsha McCartney, a spokeswoman for the Texas chapter of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

"How can we face more parents when they say goodbye [to their children] the way the Newtown parents had to?

"I think this is a remarkable day for America."

Gov. Rick Perry quickly weighed in.

"There is evil prowling in the world -- it shows up in our movies, video games and online fascinations and finds its way into vulnerable hearts and minds," he said. "As a free people, let us choose what kind of people we will be.

"...The Second Amendment to the Constitution is a basic right of free people and cannot be nor will it be abridged by the executive power of this or any other president."

Two of Texas' newest members of Congress -- Democrat Marc Veasey of Fort Worth and Republican Roger Williams of Austin -- had much different reactions.

"I believe in the Second Amendment but also believe there are reasonable ways to improve and reform our laws," Veasey said, adding that he applauds Obama for his response to violence.

Williams, though, said, "as a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, I am deeply concerned by the president's announcement today threatening to trample on our constitutional rights."

Taunting New York

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott kicked off an Internet ad campaign this week inviting New Yorkers worried about gun rights to move to Texas.

The ads, which pop up on The New York Times' website and others, are in response to new gun laws in New York that, among other things, expand a ban on assault weapons.

One of the ads says: "Wanted: Law-abiding New York gun owners looking for lower taxes and greater opportunity."

Clicking on the ads directs readers to a page that touts the benefits of living in Texas. "You'll also get to keep more of what you earn and use some of that extra money to buy more ammo."

Meanwhile, state Rep. Steve Toth, R-The Woodlands, is working on a bill to make any new federal gun law null and void in Texas.

His "Firearms Protection Act" would make any federal law banning semiautomatic firearms -- or limiting the size of magazines -- unenforceable in Texas. And anyone trying to enforce a federal gun ban in Texas could face felony charges.

"The overreach of the federal administration's executive orders ... [is] not very popular here in Texas," Toth said.

Different opinions

The president's proposal is what many in the gun industry expected.

They've seen shortages for a while of items that could be affected.

"Speculation has already impacted business. People are afraid they are going to permanently take law-abiding citizens' rights away," said Eric Walsh, owner of Elk Castle Shooting Sports. "People are stocking up. We have inventory shortages.

"We were sold out of high-capacity magazines last month."

Jason Smith, a Fort Worth attorney and a father of 3-year-old twins, said Obama is taking the right approach.

Smith asked the Fort Worth City Council this week to require background checks and waiting periods for sales at gun shows in Fort Worth. Council members asked city staff to research their options.

"I'm glad President Obama is taking action to keep guns out of the hands of felons and crazy people," he said. "We've got to take some common-sense steps to end gun violence."

But gun owner Jimmy Vaughan, 64, of Cleburne isn't sure much will come of all this.

"I think it's all political because of what happened," he said.

"Congress will probably go back to the [assault weapons] ban, and they might do something about the clips.

"I don't think it's going to go much anywhere."

Washington bureau chief Maria Recio contributed to this report.

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