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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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President’s gun control plan gets mixed reactions in region

According to local gun distributors, the only benefit of President Barack Obama’s attempts at gun control is that guns are flying off the shelves.

“If he was looking for a way to completely deplete the stock of firearms in the country, he’s succeeded,” one Spokane Valley gun store owner said.

On the flip side, those seeking stricter regulations expressed excitement over what they hoped was a step in the right direction.

Reaction to Obama’s $500 million gun control plan, announced Wednesday, was mixed around the Inland Northwest, with some supporting the proposals and others saying current laws are enough and that enforcement is the real issue.

Eric Hill, chairman of the Spokane chapter of Friends of the National Rifle Association, called the federal action a “slippery slope” and said a weapons ban would not be effective.

“If somebody wants to kill you, they will do whatever they can and use whatever weapon they can,” Hill said.

He cited the looting after Hurricane Katrina as a reason for needing an assault weapon.

“You cannot hold that many people down with only seven rounds,” Hill said. “You’ll end up throwing the gun at them.”

On the other side of the debate, Liz Moore, director of the Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane, called the proposals “common sense.”

“I really think that this is a fantastic piece of leadership from Obama,” Moore said, adding that she hopes local leaders will back the plan.

The conversation should not stop there, she said, as mental health care and a culture of violence are also key pieces to examine.

“Folks who live near me who are hunters are not the issue,” Moore said. “I would hope to see that folks who are responsible gun owners would be speaking out in favor of responsible gun regulation and not letting the NRA gun lobby speak for all gun owners.”

In Idaho, gun owner Richard Acord said guns are part of the culture in a way they can’t be in a city like Chicago or New York – but individual responsibility is important.

He said he understands the outcry over the shootings last month in Newtown, Conn., but “a $20 gun lock would have stopped that, or a gun safe.”

Rick Eichstaedt, executive director of the Center for Justice in Spokane, said the government will have a tough job balancing “honoring our constitutional rights and addressing sensible measures to address gun violence.”

With four shootings in Spokane County already this year, Eichstaedt said it’s “obvious that something needs to be done.”

“The measures that (Obama) laid out are certainly a good place to start,” he said.

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