Reporting Esme Murphy
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Just weeks after a school massacre shocked the nation, the president of the United States called for the most sweeping new gun laws in a generation.
“If there’s even one thing we can do to reduce this violence, if there’s even one life that can be saved, then we’ve got an obligation to try,” President Obama said.
Stopping gun violence became one of the president’s top priorities after 26 schoolchildren and educators were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut last month.
Some of the victims’ relatives listened to President Obama’s multi-part plan at the White House Wednesday morning.
It includes asking Congress for a new, stronger assault weapons bans, 10-round limit on the size of ammunition magazines, universal background checks for gun sales and more resource officers and counselors in schools.
Locally there seems to be support on both sides for expanding background checks — the flashpoint is over the president’s call for Congress to pass an assault weapons ban and ban high-capacity magazines.
At Capra’s Outdoors in Blaine, business was brisk Wednesday with customers coming in to buy the very assault weapons the president wants Congress to ban.
Customers asked we not videotape them.
In the weeks since Newtown, business has never been better and the owner believes the president’s announcements will only lead to more people wanting to buy.
“It’s going to empty the shelves of what is available,” owner Dean Capra said.
Capra says there is just one problem — he is sold out of the most popular assault weapons and the magazines he has in stock are running low.
“Right now, it’s tough because we can’t get merchandise,” Capra said. “These are the clips that everyone wants to ban. We have some of them right now but when they are gone, they are gone.”
The pro gun control group Protect Minnesota: Working to End Gun Violence has been trying to get tougher gun laws in Minnesota for 20 years.
The group’s executive director says she believes the assault weapons ban would make a difference.
“I think the assault weapons ban and the magazine clips are important and they are becoming increasingly important because they are an increasing threat to law enforcement,” Heather Martens said.
At a local shopping center, some gun owners said they would support the president’s tougher restrictions.
“I am a gun owner and I am perfectly pleased to see them put a ban on that type of weapon,” Jeff Dufresne said. “They don’t make any sense for hunting. They are just big boy toys.”
We spoke with people who disagree with Dufresne but they did not want to go on camera.
And while they say they don’t like it, those who are opposed to gun control say they expect Congress may, in fact, pass tougher limits — perhaps just on those high-capacity magazines.