President takes aim at gun laws; critics have questions - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

President takes aim at gun laws; critics have questions

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Gun sales at Barrow's Trading Post in Quechee have increased dramatically since the school shootings in Newtown, Conn.

"Our politicians have scared people who are not gun owners into purchasing a gun," owner Wayne Barrows said.

Barrow has owned the shop for 25 years. He says the recent debate surrounding stiffer gun control laws does not get to the heart of the issue.

"What is someone going to pass that is going to change a person thinking in that mentality to stop doing what they are doing?" Barrows asked. "Does it stop them from making a bomb on the internet and doing the same thing?"

But President Obama does want new laws, which he outlined in a speech Wednesday. Banning assault rifles and high-capacity magazines are among them. Obama also wants a universal background check implemented, which he says would close loopholes at gun shows.

"There are millions of responsible, law-abiding gun owners in America who cherish the right to bear arms for hunting or sport or protection or collection," the president said. "I also believe most gun owners agree that we can respect the Second Amendment while keeping an irresponsible, lawbreaking few from inflicting harm on a massive scale."

But it is clear that passing any reform will be a challenge.

Republican New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte released the following statement: "I am concerned that many of his proposals infringe on the rights of law-abiding firearm owners, which will not prevent a deranged individual or criminal from obtaining and misusing firearms to commit violence."

It's a battle that will start in the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is chaired by Senator Patrick Leahy. He spoke Wednesday morning about the agenda for the 113th Congress, and gun laws are on the list.

"As President Obama has made clear, no single step can end this kind of violence. But the fact that we cannot do everything that could help should not paralyze us from doing anything that can help," said Leahy, D-Vermont.

Back at Barrow's, a gun owner we spoke with supports at least one part of Obama's proposal-- a universal background check.

"I've sold some guns at a gun show. And people will just come up to you. I mean, I could have a hand gun in my hand and somebody could buy it from me that I don't even know," said Mario Maura of South Woodstock.

But Maura went on to say that he believes society as a whole needs to take some responsibility when it comes to mass shootings that are becoming more and more common.

"Every video game is a shoot 'em up thing. And all the movies these days are all violent. I think that has more to do with it than a size of a magazine or an automatic weapon," Maura said.

"It's just a matter of politicians getting people off the phone and saying we've done something. That is all they are doing," Barrows said.

Leahy says the Judiciary Committee will begin hearings on gun laws in two weeks, which, Leahy says, will be an open forum for a constructive discussion.

Obama also signed 23 executive orders Wednesday, some of which are designed to target mental health.

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