Gun advocates praise Obama's gun plan

JOHN MICHAELSON, Tennessee News Service

President Barack Obama has unveiled a plan aimed at curbing gun violence in America.

The package of legislation for Congress includes a ban on high-capacity magazines and the reinstatement of a ban on some assault weapons.

Gun safety advocate Heather Martens called these "common sense measures," along with the proposal, to have mandatory background checks for all gun purchases, including private sales.

"That is really crucial to our efforts to prevent the guns from falling into the hands of people who should not have them: criminals or people with serious mental illness," Martens said.

The National Rifle Association says law-abiding gun owners should not be blamed for the acts of criminals and madmen, and the organization claims the push is more about attacking the Second Amendment than keeping children safe.

Martens disagreed, saying the Second Amendment and public safety are not contradictory. She said she thinks moving forward with these plans is something many gun owners can get behind.

"I grew up in a hunting family, myself," she said. "I learned to shoot when I was 10 years old. The NRA I knew as a child is not the NRA of today. NRA lobbyists today represent the firearms industry, especially manufacturers of assault weapons."

Obama also announced 23 executive actions, which include a directive to strengthen the national criminal background-check system. Martens said she likes the move to allow for the study of gun violence at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Congress has prevented these studies for a number of years now," she said. "President Obama said 'We don't benefit from ignorance.' We need to find out what's really happening out there in order to understand how to better prevent gun violence."

Tennessee is one of the most deadly states in the nation for gun violence, with a yearly average of about 15 deaths for every 100,000 people.