Montana News

Jan 17, 2013 9:18 AM by KPAX News Staff

Montanans react to gun violence proposals

WASHINGTON, DC - President Obama is rolling out a sweeping package to address gun violence, including new gun laws that would require action from Congress, as well as steps the president is taking on his own.

"If you want to buy a gun, whether it's from a licensed dealer or a private seller, you should at least have to show that you are not a felon or somebody legally prohibited from buying one," Obama said during a Wednesday news conference.

Obama is calling for a new ban on military style assault weapons like the one used in the Newtown, Connecticut school shooting massacre. He's also asking Congress to ban all firearm ammunition magazines containing more than 10 bullets. Obama says he'll seek criminal and mental health check for all gun buyers.

The President's gun control measures could have an impact on Montana businesses, and we spoke with a Kalispell gun shop owner, who shared his concerns about the proposals.

The stricter gun control proposals have people on both sides of the aisle engaging in a heated conversation. We spoke to Brass and Bullets owner Junior Szklarz, who told us he's concerned about the infringement on personal rights.

Szklarz, says he has heard a lot of concern from his customers over what will happen to their guns, should the Obama Gun Control Act pass. He told us, these guns are expensive and the majority of people who own them are responsible.

"The majority of them are in the hands of law-abiding citizens. So the law-abiding citizen who has made these investments, who use these as sporting arms, are now very afraid of what is going to happen to their investment. Or better yet, in this case, what's going to happen to their natural right," Szklarz said.

Szklarz, who sold guns during the original assault weapons ban in the 1990's, says that bill didn't stop crime from happening, adding that those who aim to harm people will do so regardless of a law.

"Mental health is a big issue. The problem is that [no] administration has yet to ever attack the actual problem."

Montana Congressman Steve Daines responded to President Obama's proposal by saying that he's committed to protecting and defending Montanans' Second Amendment rights. Daines added he says he has serious concerns that the President's plan infringes upon the constitutional rights of the thousands of Montanans.

Meanwhile, Montana Democratic Senator Max Baucus said in part, enforcing the laws we already have on the books is a good first start. He added that before passing new laws, "we need a thoughtful debate that respects responsible, law-abiding gun owners in Montana, instead of a one size fits all directive from Washington, DC."

Senator Jon Tester issued this statement today after the President's plan was unveiled: "As Congress considers ways to address gun violence, we must look at all aspects of this issue. Our priority must be keeping all Americans--especially our kids--safe. I will look closely at all proposals on the table, but we must use common sense and respect our Constitution."

Reported Dax VanFossen in Kalispell contributed to this report.

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