GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - Minnesota is preparing for the same arguments heard elsewhere in the country over proposals for gun control reform in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings. Wednesday, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and John Caile, Executive Director of the Society for the Advancement of Firearm Education, weighed in with their positions.
Rybak sees President Obama's stated concerns as a positive step. "I am very happy that the President and I think the whole country right now realizes that we have to do more."
Caile, on the other hand, does not believe that reinstating the assault weapons ban and requiring background checks at gun shows will make a difference. "The assault weapons ban is a complete misdirection. It is going to solve nothing. It will not save a single life."
As for the gun show background checks, Caile was incredulous. "The vast majority of weapons confiscated from felons were bought off the street or were stolen by the felon themselves. So, they are not going to go to gun shows."
Caile claimed that there is fault with the term "assault weapon".
"The term 'assault weapon' is one that was conjured up by the anti-gun people. Nobody can tell you what it is," said Caile. "There is virtually no difference between a so-called assault weapon and hundreds and thousands of hunting rifles that operate in the same way."
Rybak disagreed. "There is a clear, common sense difference between a weapon that is used to do something like deer hunting and a weapon that is used to fire multiple rounds," said Rybak. "That is not just about deer hunting. It is about repeating something you see in some video game somewhere where massive numbers of people are killed in rapid secession."
As for the President's appointment of Vice President Joe Biden to head a committee tasked with reporting to Obama with solutions by the end of January, Caile was more than suspicious.
"I think it is all a big canard. I think that essentially they have already made up their mind," said Caile. "These people hate guns. They hate gun owners. They will look for any possible excuse to restrict the rights of all the people who do not commit crimes as is that is going to solve the problem. It is not."
Caile said he thinks the committee is not serious because Biden will head it. Biden was the author of the assault weapons ban bill in 1994 that expired in 2004.
President Obama in his address Wednesday in the White House briefing room noted that the issue is beyond one class of weapons. "We are going to need to work on making access to mental health care at least as easy as access to a gun," said the President. "We are going to need to look more closely at a culture that all too often glorifies guns and violence."
Mental health is one issue that seemed to bring Rybak and Caile closer together. "I agree that we should look at the mental health restrictions (to gun ownership and/access)," said Caile.
"It (solving the gun violence issue) is going to be us looking at how we keep guns out of the hands of people with significant mental illness issues," said Rybak.
Mayor Rybak will host a Regional Gun Summit in Minneapolis in early January. In a blog written for Wednesday's Star Tribune, Rybak said he expects mayors and police chiefs from across the Midwest to attend. They are to work on solutions to perceived problems in weapons control.
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