President Barack Obama unveiled an ambitious, $500 million proposal to curb access to guns and improve mental health services Wednesday, putting the hot-button issue of gun control at the top of the public agenda a month after the horrific mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school.
The Huffington Post reports that the plan calls for:
"requiring criminal background checks for all gun sales; reinstating the assault weapons ban; restoring a 10-round limit on ammunition magazines; eliminating armor-piercing bullets; providing mental health services in schools; allocating funds to hire more police officers; and instituting a federal gun trafficking statute, among other policies. The cost of the package, senior officials estimated, would be roughly $500 million, some of which could come from already budgeted funds."
In metro Atlanta, as in other parts of the country, many gun owners have worried about changes that could make it harder to buy guns. Business has been booming at the Sandy Springs Gun Club & Range. "Everyone is buying everything," the manager reports. "We are running out of ammunition and guns; people are coming into shoot, it has been non-stop."
On the day that Obama's proposals were announced, a customer at Tucker Guns said assault rifles should not be banned because high-capacity handguns can be just as deadly.
Henry Louis Adams, who has written blog posts about the dangers of celebratory gunfire, told Patch: "I think that every responsible law abiding American should be able to own a gun.
"However, I also believe that there needs to be a strong system in place to ensure that guns do not get into the hands of the mentally unstable or criminals. Tougher punishment should be issued to those that handle their firearms irresponsibly in which causes harm to themselves, their families and others."
In the General Assembly, a state lawmaker has introduced a bill that would allow school principals to carry firearms, but some Buckhead parents don't like the idea.
Cynthia Briscoe Brown, co-president of the NAPPS and mother of a current North Atlanta High junior and a NAHS alumna, said, "I think it's a bad idea. Firearms and children in close proximity is never a good idea."
In Stone Mountain, William Dawson, whose son was shot in the arm during a robbery at their family restaurant, had his own perspective. "Education is the best thing" on guns and the responsibilities of gun ownership, he said, "as well as harsher consequences for those who commit crimes using firearms."
Bernice King, daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s, reflected on the issue as her father's birthday -- a national holiday -- approaches. She lost her father to an assasin's bullet, and says she is "embarrassed" that in America young children can be shot and killed at a school. While King doesn't take a specific position on gun control, she says the nation needs to change its psyche toward guns and violence, and stop their glorification in our culture.
Meanwhile, Atlanta Public Schools officials are considering moving toward 100 percent APS law enforcement services, which would replace a mix of part-time and full-time Atlanta police officers currently working in the schools. That discussion was already under way before the Newtown school shooting.
Patch wants to know how you feel about gun control legislation? Should assault weapons be banned? Or large capcity magazines? Do you support stricter background checks? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.