Gun control debate heats up

Clerk Lance McCoy, right, shows a variety of weapons Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012, including an AR-15 style semi-automatic at Kizer Guns and Ammo near Nacogdoches, Texas. As talk and support grows both in Congress and in public opinion for a ban on the so-called assault rifles, the most popular rifle sold in America and the same type used in the Newtown, Conn., school shootings, calls from prospective buyers around the state have soared, McCoy said. (AP Photo/The Daily Sentinel, Andrew D. Brosig)

WESTFIELD – As the country looks for a reason why Adam Lanza would kill his mother, a group of innocent young children, and himself, there has been an outcry from people for stricter gun control.
Lanza, 20, shot and killed 20 children, six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School, his mother, and himself in Newtown, Conn. one week ago in the largest tragedy of its kind in the United States.
President Barack Obama held a press conference on the topic Wednesday and state Rep. David Linsky (D-Natick) said he plans to bring his colleagues together Jan. 3 to strategize ways to reduce gun violence. Here in Westfield, state Rep. Donald Humason (R-Westfield) spoke out on the subject and said Massachusetts already has some of the strictest gun control laws in the country.
Humason said the problem with placing more gun control on citizens is that the restrictions will be placed on those already abiding by the law.
“Criminals do not abide by the law,” he said.
Humason said there has been talk of banning semi-automatic weapons. However, he said any pistol that is not a revolver is semi-automatic.
“People hear the term semi-automatic and they think of military grade guns,” he said. “That’s not the case.”
Linksy appeared on New England Cable News this week and said he wants to review the gun laws with a fine-tooth comb.
“Let’s go over every single line, every single comma of our gun laws in Massachusetts, and let’s start closing those holes that allow people to legally own guns like the one that was used in Connecticut,” said Linsky.
Humason said Linsky has long supported stricter gun control and files legislation regularly, which is supported by Gov. Deval Patrick.
Humason said guns themselves are not the problem.
“No gun is bad,” he said. “No car is bad, no baseball bat is bad until someone uses it to do a bad thing. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could wave a magic wand and end gun violence or car violence – or baseball bat violence.”
Humason noted that statistically, baseball bats are “the most commonly used weapon” in America and said “cars kill more people than guns.”
“What happened in Newtown should upset every one of us because it is proof that evil exists in the world, but to come up with a simple excuse is not the way,” Humason said. “Anybody who would kill their own mother and a group of innocent children . . .  what law would prevent that from happening? The laws only work on the law-abiding.”
Humason said placing more laws on top of existing ones is not the answer.
“I just want to get to the solution,” he said. “I don’t think this is it. Let’s talk instead about helping the mentally ill.”
Southwick Police Chief Mark Krynicki agreed there are enough gun control laws.
“This country has in excess of 150 gun laws on the books,” Krynicki said. “It’s time for judges to start enforcing those laws, and we need to look at mental health issues.”
Krynicki said he “applauds” Massachusetts for having strict laws and said as police chief, he has the final say on whether or not an individual is issued a license to carry firearms.
The outlines of a national debate on gun control have begun to take shape. At the White House, spokesman Jay Carney said curbing gun violence is a complex problem that will require a “comprehensive solution.”
Carney did not offer specific proposals or a timeline. He said President Barack Obama will meet with law enforcement officials and mental health professionals in coming weeks.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, flanked by shooting survivors and relatives of victims of gunfire around the country, pressed Obama and Congress to toughen gun laws and tighten enforcement after the Newtown massacre.
“If this doesn’t do it,” he asked, “what is going to?”
At least one senator, Virginia Democrat Mark Warner, said Monday that the attack in Newtown has led him to rethink his opposition to the ban on assault weapons.
West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat who is an avid hunter and lifelong member of the National Rifle Association, said it’s time to move beyond the political rhetoric and begin an honest discussion about reasonable restrictions on guns.
“This is bigger than just about guns,” he added. “It’s about how we treat people with mental illness, how we intervene, how we get them the care they need, how we protect our schools. It’s just so sad.”

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