SHERIDAN — Local business owners said President Barack Obama’s recent executive order outlining new gun control regulations will not affect local gun dealers, most of which are already licensed. However, they said the president’s order is misguided and the government should worry about enforcing the laws that are already on the books.
The order, which the president announced Tuesday, does strengthen already existing regulations.
It includes plans for expanded background checks, the hiring of 230 new examiners to process those checks, research on smart gun technology and $500 million to improve mental health care.
Local gun dealers agreed that the order will not significantly affect their businesses.
“Everyone that leaves this store (with a gun) has to complete a background check,” Pawn Broker employee Jim Murphy said Wednesday.
Big Horn Trading LLC owner John Lundberg expressed similar sentiment. Lundberg said if the president enforced gun laws that were already on the books, gun violence would substantially decrease.
What will change, however, is people attempting to purchase weapons at gun shows or through private means will now have to complete background checks. But, if someone wants to purchase a gun illegally, Murphy said, he or she will still find a way to skirt the law.
“Nothing changes for criminals,” Murphy said.
Murphy praised a portion of the order that proposed adding mental health assessments to the background check process.
According to a statement from the White House, the Department of Health and Human Services is finalizing a rule to remove legal barriers preventing states from reporting relevant information about people prohibited from possessing a gun for specific mental health reasons.
Murphy noted that the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act prevents mental health professionals from disclosing the names of patients who should not own a firearm for mental health reasons — even if they know their patients are potentially dangerous.
“Can you imagine having that on your conscience? … Knowing that a person was a ticking time bomb? It’s a felony (for mental health professionals) to say anything,” he said.
Murphy also criticized gun-free zones, such as those at schools.
“We need to enforce the laws we already have on the books. Gun-free zones are a joke,” Murphy said.
Lundberg agreed and voiced support for eliminating gun-free zones.
“What part about (the right to bear arms) ‘shall not be infringed’ are you (Obama) having difficulty with?” Lundberg questioned. “If we eliminated gun-free zones, criminals would have a second thought … they might get shot. An armed society is a polite society.”
Lundberg said, as customers react to regulation changes, he cannot keep guns and ammunition on his shelves due to panicked customers buying more firearms. AR-15 distributors and manufacturers are running out of rifles due to a sharp increase in sales, he said.
Bruce Shell, a regular customer at Lundberg’s business said increased gun regulations are only increasing gun sales.
“He (Obama) is the best gun seller,” Shell said.
Obama’s executive actions on guns have sparked renewed debate about how far the government should go in limiting gun sales. Critics argue that Obama is violating citizens’ constitutional rights. Supporters of the gun control measures have said the measures are necessary, but some don’t think they go far enough to prevent gun-related deaths or mass shootings.