The Daily Tar Heel

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Thursday May 19th

President calls for tightened gun laws

President Barack Obama stirred up a long-running debate last week when he announced a series of executive actions in an attempt to curb gun violence.

Among the proposed measures, the actions call for a more efficient background check system, increasing mental health treatment and improving gun safety technology.

“The United States of America is not the only country on Earth with violent or dangerous people. We are not inherently more prone to violence,” the president said during a speech on Jan. 5. 

“But we are the only advanced country on Earth that sees this kind of mass violence erupt with this kind of frequency.”

Lance Stell, a professor from Davidson College, said Obama’s measures are attempting to create stricter reinforcement for existing legislation.

“From what I can tell, the law has not changed,” he said. 

“(Obama) may have given some additional guidelines and additional enforcement resources, but, with respect to restrictions on who may buy, sell, who may transfer or mail, or any circumstances like that — that has not changed.”

Stell, who has studied and taught on the issue of gun control, said though Obama is taking executive action, Congress could weigh in by refusing to fund the measures the president is proposing.

David Price, D-N.C., said via email he strongly supports Obama’s executive action.

“In Chapel Hill, we are all too familiar with the devastating impact of gun violence,” he said.

Feb. 10 marks the one-year anniversary since the shooting deaths of three Muslim students at an apartment complex in Chapel Hill.

Price said he has advocated for many of the measures proposed by the president, including strengthening background checks, reinstating federal gun violence research and banning the sale of military-grade weapons.

“We need leadership at the federal level on common sense reforms to reduce gun deaths because many states like North Carolina have proven unwilling to address the issue,” he said in the email.

Becky Ceartas, executive director of North Carolinians Against Gun Violence, said her organization is also pleased with the president’s executive overdrive. 

“(The overdrive) is significant and will go a long way toward saving lives,” she said.

But Paul Valone, president of gun advocacy group Grass Roots North Carolina, said the president’s override goes against civil liberties guaranteed by the Second Amendment.

“What they want is to restrict the firearms until eventually no one can own them,” he said.

He said his organization plans to respond against any resulting changes made in North Carolina.

“We’re examining litigation, but (Obama) has done this in such a way that litigation may not be possible,” he said. 

“So I guess what we’re going to have to do is wait until it’s implemented and then fight the implementation as it becomes an issue.”

Stell said that gun control has been a hot-button issue in the United States since the country’s founding. 

The strong reactions the president’s announcement provoked on both sides reflect how highly contested the issue continues to be today, he said.

“The reactions tell you something about the place of gun control in American politics,” he said. 

“There are certain issues in politics that are very touchy and this is one of them.”

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