Connie Alvarez has seen more than his share of gun-related violence. The owner of The Huntsman gun shop in Estherville is also a former investigator with the Los Angeles County sheriff’s department. He grew disgusted with the crime infestation in the area. The infamous 1991 L.A. riots were the tipping point. Alvarez moved his family away from the west coast. They eventually settled in northern Iowa.
Alvarez believes President Obama’s call for a new assault weapon ban and other anti-gun measures are purely reactionary, and they will not make the country safer.
“The biggest problem I have with it is, the country’s running on emotion,” Alvarez said. “It isn’t going to do any good. We haven’t got broken gun laws, we’ve got broken people. If gun laws worked Chicago would be the safest city in the country and Mexico would be the safest country in the world. We’ve got enough laws on the book. You need to enforce the laws we have.”
On Wednesday, President Obama unleashed his plan to curb gun violence by calling for a new, stricter assault weapons ban, universal background checks and a 10-bullet limit on ammunition magazines. Using a handful of schoolchildren as a backdrop, Obama said, “Their voices should encourage us to change”.
The president also announced 23 executive actions he plans to take without congressional approval. The orders include an increase on research into the roots of gun violence and reducing barriers contained in Obamacare that would prevent doctors from asking patients about guns in their homes.
“The criminals don’t pay attention to the law, but the Democrats are going to exploit this for anything they can,” Alvarez said. “I can’t blame them necessarily. The country wants to feel good that we did something because kids got killed. It’s not going to change anything. You can put “No Guns Allowed” on a building, on a school, it doesn’t do any good. All it guarantees is when a guy goes in, nobody’s going to challenge him.”
Aaron Dorr, the executive director of Iowa Gun Owners, agrees that “no gun zones” make little sense.
“It’s completely absurd,” Dorr said. “The President mentioned the shootings at a temple in Wisconsin, the mall in Oregon, the school in Connecticut, and the movie theatre in Colorado as some of the reasons for this action. All of these shootings have one thing in common – they happened in places where guns were already banned.”
Second Amendment advocates in Iowa were unanimous in slamming President Obama’s proposals. State Representative Tom Shaw (R-Laurens) plans to introduce a bill that would prohibit federal agents from taking guns from Iowa citizens.
“Any assault on one of our unalienable rights is an assault on all of our unalienable rights,” Shaw told TheIowaRepublican. “I am deeply disturbed at any thought or attempt to circumvent the Bill of Rights via the use of a presidential executive order.”
Much of the anti-gun fervor since the Sandy Hook tragedy has been directed at the NRA. The Iowa Firearms Coalition is the local NRA affiliate. IFC leaders say President Obama’s proposed actions were entirely predictable.
“The members of the Iowa Firearms Coalition were disheartened, but hardly surprised, by President Obama’s address,” said Jeff Burkett, IFC president. “In a stark contradiction of his claim that, ‘This time must be different’, his focus was on the same old ploy of attempting to further limit Americans’ freedom to choose the firearms they want and need for protection, recreation and competitive sport.”
Gun shop owners like Alvarez have seen a steady increase in business since the Sandy Hook tragedy, as calls for new restrictions on guns reached a fever pitch. Connie Alvarez also trains people on proper shooting techniques. He says most of his recent trainees have been women, who are learning to use guns for defensive purposes.
“People are afraid,” Alvarez said. “Bad things happened to good people. Taking guns from legal, law-abiding citizens isn’t going to stop these tragedies. Again, we’ve got broken people, not broken gun laws. It’s time to address those problems.”
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