ORLANDO, Fla. - President Barack Obama called for a new ban on military-style assault weapons on Wednesday in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., shooting massacre, aimed at stopping gun violence and focusing on gun sales, education and mental health.
Local 6 spoke to residents on their opinions of the gun control changes, which appeared to be split down the middle. Many gun owners and non-gun owners are applauding the president's attempts to address mental health issues and put more officers on the streets.
"I think the ban on assault weapons, and the magazines, the extra large magazines, and I think it's good to background check on people buying from gunshows," said Don van Scoyoc, who was second in command at the Orlando Police Department in the 1970s.
He says he dealt with the gun violence back then and says it's gotten even worse for police now.
"I think maybe if we can come through with the things the president suggested, it'll be a big help to us," he said.
But some say restricting what kinds of weapons can be bought at stores and fired in ranges won't stop the violence.
Harvey Santiago, who owns The Shooting Gallery in Orlando, says he is skeptical that many of the president's other proposals, other than the background checks, will help curb violence.
Eileen Rieg, who owns Rieg's Gun Shop in Orlando, a ban on assault rifles is focused on cosmetics rather than reality. She say two rifles that may look different are capable of doing the same thing. Rieg says based on the 1994-2004 assault weapon ban guidelines, one would be banned, the other would be OK.
"Why do something that we can just pat ourselves on the back and say 'oh look what a good boy am I' and it hasn't changed anything," said Rieg. Rieg also points to statistics showing most crimes and homicides are linked to handguns, not rifles.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Florida Senator Bill Nelson and Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings called for a ban on assault rifles and high-capacity magazine clips.
Nelson and Demings also want to close the loophole that allows people to buy weapons at gun shows in Florida without going through a background check.
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