Gun control legislation offered on a state and national level

With the gun control debate eliciting reform in Washington, D.C. and Massachusetts, a number of individuals welcome the new restrictions and want to see more control on firearms, whereas others fear drastic alterations to their second amendment rights.

On Wednesday, U.S. President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden unveiled a series of 23 executive actions as well as a legislative plan to decrease gun violence.

The provisions include a mandatory background check for all gun owners to ensure that criminals and mentally ill people do not have access to guns, a ban of high-capacity magazines and a ban of assault weapons.

In a press conference Wednesday morning at the White House, Obama said the majority of the American people support his proposal.

“I also believe most gun owners agree that we can respect the Second Amendment while keeping an irresponsible, law-breaking few from inflicting harm on a massive scale,” Obama said. “I believe most of  them agree that if America worked harder to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, there would be fewer atrocities like the one that occurred in Newtown.”

Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick also filed gun safety legislation for the Commonwealth on Wednesday, seeking to close loopholes and require gun purchasers to go through background checks at gun shows, reduce access
to high-powered rounds of ammunition and give more funding to mental health programs.

“Both proactively, and in the wake of too many tragedies, I have filed legislation to tackle the problem of gun violence and illegal firearm possession,” Patrick said in a statement. “Today, we do so again,
along with an important investment in mental health programs. Mental illness is a disease that can be treated, and our communities are safer when the appropriate services and supports are available for
people in need.”

Mass. Sen. John Keenan said he is pleased with many of Patrick’s proposals, including the push to increase funding to mental health programs.

“I also hope that this will be only the beginning of a serious conversation about the status of our mental health system,” Keenan said in a statement. “The Governor today takes an important step towards promoting public safety, but there is a need for broader conversation.”

These legislative measures come after a wave of mass shootings across the country. On Dec. 14 a shooting occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. where 20 children and six adults were fatally
shot.

In July, a shooter in Aurora, Colo. took the lives of 20 people and injured 58 others at a movie theater.

The National Rifle Association, issued a statement Wednesday responding to Obama’s proposal.

“The NRA will continue to focus on keeping our children safe and securing our schools, fixing our broken mental health system, and prosecuting violent criminals to the fullest extent of the law,” stated the response.

A number of students agree with the gun control laws and believe they are a step in the right direction.

Megan McGoldrick, a Boston University College of COmmunication senior, said new measures are needed after the recent shootings.

“It’s [the implementation of gun control legislation] a good idea,” she said. “The background check is definitely something that can, hopefully, decrease violence. With everything that’s been happening, some action needs to be taken.”

Gopal Srinivas, a College of Arts and Sciences freshman, said more oversight on the sale and distribution of guns is a positive measure.

“I do agree with some controls on guns,” Srinivas said. “There are a lot of people who can get guns who don’t need them. Someone who’s mentally ill has no reason to have a gun.”

Michael Melkonian, a CAS senior, said legislators must be wary of violating Second Amendment rights, but some form of action must be taken to reduce the potential for violence.

“They [gun control laws] should not violate Second Amendment rights,” he said. “But not letting people like [Adam Lanza] and [James Holmes] getting thousands of rounds with no one knowing [is important].”

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