Coast residents speak out about gun violence - - The News for South Mississippi

Coast residents speak out about gun violence

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The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school stunned the nation, and began a national debate on gun control. A commission, headed up by Vice-President Joe Biden, is recommending more stringent background checks, especially for the mentally ill.

Michele Allen is a licensed clinical social worker. She likes the idea, but believes enforcement is a problem.  

"The problem here is that when somebody does mention that they may hurt themselves or hurt others, people who are mandated reporters do not report, and that's one of the big issues," Allen said.

More federal spending on school security is also one of the provision in the report. That's an idea that sits well with educators.  

"We always see the opportunity for us to increase not only the visibility of security personnel, but also certain security measures," Ocean Springs School Superintendent Dr. Bonita Coleman-Potter said. "Many of those initiatives though would require additional funding, so we would absolutely look forward to those dollars coming here."

On the law enforcement side of the equation, police officers I talked to are skeptical that any ban on high capacity clips or semi-assault rifles is really not going to do much good. 

Deputy Chief Mark Dunston is with the Ocean Springs Police Department.   

"From a law enforcement perspective, it's indifferent. A properly trained citizen with a gun is an asset to the community," Dunston explained. "And the number of bullets that a magazine will hold is immaterial. Five rounds, ten rounds, 30 rounds, it just requires you to re-load more." 

At Haney's Pawn Shop, clips and semi-automatics flew out the door after the commission was formed. Sykes Haney feels any gun control won't mean much. 

"It's not the guns, it's the people that are causing this thing. We need to check more on them who have guns," Haney said. 

The only certainly right now, this debate over gun violence is far from over.  The president has scheduled a news conference for Wednesday to talk about the recommendations.

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