Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013 | 2 a.m.
As President Barack Obama laid out his plan Wednesday for increased gun control in a White House news conference, approximately 60,000 people were roaming the Sands Convention Center in Las Vegas for the second day of the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade, SHOT, show.
The show, which is run by the National Shooting Sports Foundation and is in its 35th year, is one of the largest firearm trade shows in the country with 1,600 exhibitors, and is open to professionals involved with the shooting sports, hunting and law enforcement industries, but not the public.
As word spread of Obama’s executive actions and requests for congressional action to help stem gun violence, the halls of the convention center buzzed with groups of attendees huddling to discuss the details.
Obama took immediate action to study gun violence and the effects of violence in the media and video games, provide federal funding for additional school resource officers and strengthen background checks of firearm purchasers. He asked Congress to pass a universal background check for all gun purchases, restore the previous ban on "military-style" assault rifles and limit magazines to a maximum of 10 rounds.
If one consensus emerged from those at the SHOT Show, it was for an increased focus on people and a general belief that the types of guns and ammunition available to the public should not be limited. Background checks, help for the mentally ill, increased school security and studying gun violence were all acceptable to the majority of people who offered comments on the president's proposals. Limiting specific types of guns and the capacity of clips, they said, would do little to curb violence.
Here is a sample of some of the comments collected at the 2013 SHOT Show from attendees from around country.
Raydel Ramirez, 34, Florida
On the assault rifle ban: Banning one type of gun is not going to help. The Columbine shootings were with handguns and shotguns. I think people who have guns also need to be more responsible. We are hearing that the mother of the Newtown, Conn.. shooter was the owner of the guns. Why didn't she have a safe? Why did she leave them where her son could get them?
On background checks: I think it's reasonable to be stricter in how we evaluate who can have a gun. We definitely need mental health checks. It can be hard to say who has the capacity to go out and do something awful like these attacks, but we have to be more diligent.
On school security: I think a good solution is more security. You go to a sporting event and there is armed security. There is armed security here at the SHOT Show, and there is armed security at federal buildings. These people who commit these attacks aren't going to these types of places with security. It's crazy that you have security in all these places, but then you hage 'Gun Free Zones' at schools.
Derek Huffman, 44, Arizona
On the Obama gun control proposal: Unconstitional laws are not laws. I find it curious that they didn't take any action after the Aurora (Colo., theater) shooting, but then once the election is over they exploit the Newtown tragedy because they don't have anything to lose anymore.
On assault rifle ban: Evil deeds live in the hearts of evil men, not in the workings of gadgets.
On background checks: Americans should have the right to dispose of their private property as they see fit.
On school security: In Arizona we've had additional school resource officers since Columbine, and it's worked beautifully.
Bob Bailey, 61, Idaho
On background checks: I'm not sure how I feel about a background check for every gun purchase. I don't think the government should limit what we do with our personal property. I do think it's OK to have a background check for every first-time buyer.
On limiting the capacity of magazines: I've never heard of anyone who was saved by a 10-round clip. You can always carry a second clip. It just makes it harder for law enforcement to get the high-capacity magazines when they need them.
On the cause of gun violence: It's a societal problem. I think we need to do more to help people with mental health issues, and there have to be more places to treat people with mental health problems.
Ty Taylor, 49, New Hampshire
On Obama's proposal: I just don't trust him at all, and I think he's looking for a way to take away our Second Amendment rights.
On background checks: They do need to do what they can to keep the mentally ill from purchasing guns. As a gun manufacturer and salesman I believe in conducting the background checks and also getting a feel for who you are selling to. In the end, I have the discretion over who I sell to.
On assault rifle ban: I don't understand the whole hang up on assault rifles. Most of what we are really referring to now are semi-automatic weapons that are no different from hunting rifles. You pull the trigger once, one bullet comes out. Most of differences from other guns are cosmetic.
On preventing future shootings: I think we need more security in schools. We need to do a better job of identifying and helping the mentally ill, and I think gun owners need to be responsible in securing their guns.
David Dahl, 63, Illinois
On Obama's proposal: I think they are missing the whole point, which is: What do we do with people we catch who have committed a violent crime. We are way too lenient, and people who commit crimes with guns should go to jail for longer periods of time, no probation, no one- or two-year sentences. It’s a revolving door.
On limiting the capacity of magazines: It’s a non-issue. The amount of bullets someone can have in a clip is not what is going to save lives.
On school security: I think there should be more concealed carry. It doesn't have to be teachers necessarily. It should people who want to take the responsibility, it shouldn't be forced on someone. It should be people with the proper training, but it can be anyone, a teacher, principal, janitor.
On background checks: I do agree with registering firearms and background checks for first-time buyers. But if I have a registered gun and I want to pass it down to my son, I don't want the government interfering. It's just little by little taking away our rights. They don’t take the whole pie at the one time, they do it piece by piece.
Omar Munoz, 36, Florida
On background checks: I do believe background checks should be better and more in-depth. We need to make sure people with mental health problems aren't getting guns.
On an assault rifle ban: I think some politicians have wanted to ban assault rifles for a long time, and now they have an excuse to go ahead and do it. The issue isn't the types of firearms that are available, it’s who has access to them. Banning assault rifles will not fix anything. If a drunk driver hits a bus and kills 20 children, you don't ban his car. We do have licenses for drivers and tests and all that, and I think that's fine. We do need more checks on the people buying guns. Picking one gun and banning it though is silly.
On limiting magazine capacity: When you talk to competitive shooters they say you can load one of those clips in seconds. You can always carry more clips. When you think about these attacks, it's not like people are getting away. They are diving for the floor. I just don't think limiting rounds in a clip will really save lives.