EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 22, 2013

N.H. delegation slow to endorse Obama's gun control proposals

Most take wait-and-see approach

By John Toole
jtoole@eagletribune.com

---- — New Hampshire’s Congressional delegation is split between welcoming President Obama’s plan to deter gun violence and warily examining his proposals.

No one opened fire on the plan, but Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte voiced the strongest reservations.

“I will carefully review the details of the president’s plan,” Ayotte said, “however, 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.”

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat, thanked Obama, but withheld support for now. She said she looks forward to considering the proposal as the details emerge.

“At that time, I’ll do what I’ve always done – consult with New Hampshire law enforcement officials and stakeholders to determine what is best for our state to ultimately make sure we implement a plan that works,” Shaheen said.

Democrat Carol Shea-Porter, representing the 1st District, embraced the Obama plan.

“I agree with the president’s comprehensive approach to addressing gun violence,” Shea-Porter said. “I will not and cannot forget the never-ending scenes of families and communities in shock and mourning, and I will not ignore the calls of our citizens to do something to help stop the violence.”

Democrat Ann McLane Kuster, the 2nd District congressman, said she was pleased Obama put forward specific proposals to address gun violence.

“I look forward to discussing those proposals with law enforcement, mental health professionals, education leaders, sportsmen and women, and others throughout our district in the coming weeks,” Kuster said.

Shaheen said she appreciated the work by Obama and Vice President Joe Biden to put together a proposal to reduce gun violence.

“Our country needs to come together in the aftermath of the Newtown shooting to do everything in our power to end the culture of violence that is leading to these types of heartbreaking tragedies,” Shaheen said.

In welcoming the Obama plan, Shea-Porter was mindful of gun owners’ rights.

“I support responsible gun ownership because Americans have a right to hunt or defend themselves,” she said, “and they also have a right to expect to be safe as they go about their daily lives.”

Both political parties need to come together on a comprehensive, common sense approach, Kuster said.

“While no single plan or policy can prevent every senseless act of violence, that cannot be an excuse for inaction,” she said.

Kuster suggested the country can respect gun owners’ rights while also taking common sense steps to keep communities and families safe.

Their opinions will matter.

Obama is looking to Congress to enact required background checks on all gun sales, including private and Internet sales.

He also wants Congress to reinstate a ban on assault weapons, limit the size of ammunition magazines, bar armor-piercing bullets and approve laws to punish people who help criminals get guns.

The president, meanwhile, is using his executive powers to deal with gun violence.

He plans to clarify that health care professionals can contact police when people threaten violence, improve information sharing among the states and federal agencies, plus give local communities the opportunity to hire more school resource officers and counselors.

He also wants to ensure schools have comprehensive emergency plans.