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Local Reactions To The President's Gun Initiatives

zaphad1 via Flickr
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Under President Obama's executive order, people who are "in the business" of selling guns will have to get a license and perform background checks on their customers.

Local gun safety advocates are applauding President Obama’s executive orders on guns, which include requiring gun dealers to be licensed and to do background checks on their customers.

Miranda Viscoli, with New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence, says they’ve been unable to close the so-called gun show loophole at the state level. She spoke with KUNM’s Elaine Baumgartel. 

VISCOLI: So, right now, what he did is fantastic. We’ve been trying to close the gun show loophole for three years. But what I like about what President Obama is doing, as well, is that he’s going after all gun sales. So it includes online sales. It includes, you know, if you want to buy a gun on Facebook.

KUNM: But Obama’s new rule doesn’t actually specify exactly who will have to get licensed and who will have to be performing those background checks. There’s wiggle room in this executive order. There’s no minimum gun sales number that triggers the requirement for a license.

VISCOLI: Right, and so, in the past, courts have upheld convictions for firearms without a license to be as few as two. It will also depend on what other factors are present in terms of that sale, because right now it’s pretty much – you have a carte blanche. People are selling 200 firearms and they’re saying, ‘Hey, it’s my hobby.’

KUNM: You’ve also criticized our current system because of the inconsistency with which crime information is reported into the database for the background checks.

VISCOLI: What this does is, we can now boost our background check system, make sure the names are going in, that the courts are putting the names in, that the police are putting the names in. We would love to see New Mexico, our background check system to be a state run background check system. Because our police and our courts have a much better idea of who should be going into that system. That actually will have a huge impact on the safety of our communities.

KUNM: Do the President’s orders, do they go far enough? What about a ban assault weapons? [VISCOLI: No…no…] What about preventing people on the no-fly list from buying guns?

VISCOLI: The problem with the no-fly list is that we need to fix the no-fly list so that it is a fair list.

KUNM: What about the… an assault weapons ban?

VISCOLI: I think it’s a no brainer. I don’t know why we need to have these hundred round magazine clips, I really don’t. We don’t need war tools on our streets. We just don’t need them. And that’s what those are.   

To get another perspective, KUNM’s Marisa Demarco talked with Anthony Landavazo, an owner and instructor at ABQFirearms Training. The company offers courses for people seeking a concealed carry license, and he says there was a big surge in business today after the president’s speech. Landavazo’s company is also licensed to sell guns—with background checks.

President Obama mentioned using smartphone-like technology that would require a fingerprint to unlock a gun for use, but Landavazo says that’s not a great idea.

LANDAVAZO: You know, my phone works maybe six out of 10 times, which is pretty good. My life isn’t reliant on my phone, so if it doesn’t scan my fingerprint just right, it’s OK, I can enter my passcode or try again. I don’t think any police officer or any military member would want that technology on their firearms, so I certainly don’t think any citizen would want that on their defensive firearm either.

KUNM: Do you agree with the idea of universal background checks?

LANDAVAZO: Myself and many other gun owners have the mentality that you give an inch, then they take a mile. I think that’s what the big fear is, that you know, OK, if we give up on this, give up on private sales, they feel it’s a way for the government to overreach in the firearms area.

KUNM: So what do you think should be done to curb the issue of mass shooting or some other situation of violence?

LANDAVAZO: I wish I had a solid answer for that. I certainly didn’t come up with the quote or the idea that you can’t legislate away evil, but I certainly believe it. I think somebody that has evil in their heart and that’s what they want to do, I wholeheartedly think that they’ll find a way to carry it out. If it’s not from a licensed gun dealer, it’ll be through a stolen firearm. I don’t know what could be done to curb violence completely.

KUNM: What if somebody who buys a gun from you does something crazy? I just wonder if it weighs on your mind.

LANDAVAZO: Most people that come in, they seem just like average people. Luckily the laws are kind of on my side in that regard. You know, if somebody were to make a strange comment to me, I’d by no means have to complete the sale. I could turn them away. As far as the laws go and my judgment go, every firearm that I’ve sold so far, I can sleep at night with.

Marisa Demarco began a career in radio at KUNM News in late 2013 and covered public health for much of her time at the station. During the pandemic, she is also the executive producer for Your NM Government and No More Normal, shows focused on the varied impacts of COVID-19 and community response, as well as racial and social justice. She joined Source New Mexico as editor-in-chief in 2021.
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