TRAVERSE CITY — Pointless. That’s how Hampel’s Gun Shop salesman Jack Fellows described President Barack Obama’s proposed ban on large-clip magazines.
“The genie is out of the bottle,” Fellows said. “There are hundreds of millions of them in circulation. No point in legislating them out of existence. There is no way they’ll ever be recalled.”
Obama’s proposed 23 executive actions and legislative proposals in the wake of increased national gun violence include banning high-capacity ammunition rounds and military style weapons, as well as expanding background checks for would-be gun buyers.
The measures were announced mid-day Wednesday.
Local residents said they like some of the proposals, but some feared a weapons ban would lead to a slippery slope of tightening controls.
Fellows said the Traverse City gun shop’s customers, anticipating tighter rules, snapped up military rifles the day after a gunman’s murderous rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary, along with ammunition and magazines.
“It’s now at a point where people are buying stuff that’s not going to be on the hit parade, even .22 ammunition,” Fellows said.
Fellows contends the real answer to gun violence in the United States is not more gun control, but instead to improve social connections.
“Is it a parenting problem? Is it an educational problem?” he asked. “If we were serious, we’d be looking at that.”
‘The right direction’
City resident and former Grand Traverse County Commissioner Ross Richardson said he wasn’t entirely familiar with the package of proposals, but likes what he’s heard.
“I think it’s definitely a start in the right direction,” he said. “If it cuts the danger to the general public ... that’s a good thing.”
Michael O’Shea and Jerry Baumann, both sports shooting enthusiasts, chatted about Obama’s proposals while at J&S Hamburg downtown. O’Shea, a local deejay, said he agrees with some of the measures.
“I can’t understand why anyone would want an assault rifle,” O’Shea said. “And I think stiffer background checks is a great idea. But I worry that once they get their foot in the door, they’ll keep taking and taking.”
Neither liked the idea of ammunition limits because they go through a couple thousand rounds for a three-day trap shoot. Obama’s proposal would require photo identification at the time of purchase that effectively would limit buying unlimited amounts of ammunition on the Internet.
Ammunition dealers also would have to report bulk sales of bullets to law enforcement, according to published reports.
Baumann, a local retired school administrator, said he doesn’t oppose limits on magazines. But he suspects more rules won’t keep guns out of criminals' hands.
Suttons Bay Public Schools Superintendent Michael Murray called Obama’s effort a good step, particularly limits on ammunition.
“In the situations where school personnel were able to disarm the shooter, it was because they were stopping to reload,” Murray said. “That’s one thing that makes it safer.”
He said there are no simple solutions to a complex problem. The entertainment industry, for example, de-sensitizes humans to killing each other.