EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 17, 2013

N.H. residents react to gun-control proposal

By Alex Lippa

---- — Gun shop manager John Cavaretta just shook his head yesterday when he heard about the president’s gun control proposals.

“This is just a knee-jerk reaction,” he said. “These are all just meaningless buzzwords.”

Obama proposed stricter gun laws, which would ban military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, as well as close all criminal background check loopholes.

The proposal comes after 26 people were killed by former Kingston resident Adam Lanza last month in Newtown, Conn.

“I support the removal of military-style weapons,” said Rep. Lisa Whittemore, D-Londonderry. “How is it that we as people cannot understand that weapons of war do not belong in our stores or in our streets or in our community? Weapons of war are not for hunting nor can they be reasonably justified as personal protection.”

Rep. Al Baldasaro, R-Londonderry, said national leaders should focus on taking guns away, but instead on harsher punishments for criminals.

“I disagree with the president 100 percent,” Baldasaro said. “The New Hampshire Constitution says we have the right to protect ourselves, others and our property. He is not a king; we need to be going after criminals.”

The president wants to close loopholes which allow felons to obtain guns. He estimated 40 percent of all gun sales are made by private sellers, who are exempt from running background checks.

“The background checks we have in place are working,” Baldasaro said. “We don’t have the killings per capita like other states. States like California have much more restrictive gun laws and they have a larger amount of murders.”

Cavaretta, who manages Chester Arms in Derry, said since the massacre in Newtown, he has seen a significant increase in gun sales. He said his shop is required to check with either state police or the FBI every time they sell a gun.

“I just don’t see any loopholes,” he said. “There are no guns just given to people. We are only stopping law-abiding citizens from getting weapons. We aren’t going to stop the criminals.”

Rep. Norman Major, R-Plaistow, questioned how Obama plans to legislate gun sales not done through a shop.

“If I sold a gun from me to my son, or if I sold my personal gun to my neighbor, then how would they be able to get a background check?” He asked.

The president also wants to make schools safer by adding more school resource officers and improving emergency response plans. In Londonderry, officials have been working to budget more school resource officers. Currently, the district only has one officer for six schools.

“I am grateful that the president will fund school resource officers,” Whittemore said. “Due to the economic strain, we have had to cut back. I think what the parents would like is a school resource officer which is devoted to a particular school.”

New Hampshire Republican State Committee Chairman Wayne MacDonald called Obama’s proposal a “power grab.”

“The gun laws the president put forward today are not necessary, especially with thousands of gun laws already on the books,” MacDonald said. “What he should be doing is looking to the laws we already have and enforcing those. Now is not the time to undermine law-abiding citizens and their constitutional right to bear arms. President Obama has failed to address the real issues. Instead, he has made a power grab, rather than working for common sense solutions that protect our children, our communities, and our fundamental rights.”

Obama also wants health insurance plans to include mental health benefits to allow people to get the treatment they need.

“We need to be able to be better at identifying people with mental health problems,” Major said. “We are lacking on mental health education.”