Pres. Obama's executive orders spark gun debate in midstate - abc27 WHTM

Pres. Obama's executive orders spark gun debate, mixed reviews in midstate

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"Let's do the right thing for them...for this country that we love so much."

Those were the final words from President Obama on Wednesday. Flanked by two children on each side, Mr. Obama signed 23 Executive Orders (the right thing) as a part of his $500 million multi-part plan to install new gun safety measures.

"I think it's a good idea," said one woman, who did not give her name, in Harrisburg. "I mean there's a lot of violence on the streets. A lot of people getting hurt...I think [the President's orders] would be a good thing."

Dauphin County Coroner Graham Hetrick said, not so fast. Hetrick performed 16 homicide autopsies in 2012: 13 were gun-related deaths. Yet the coroner is quick to point out anytime 'assault weapons' are banned – the laws are too vague.

"Nobody can really define what that is. It's sort of scary to pass laws without true solid definitions," said Hetrick. "If I'm arrested, I'd at least like to know what the definition of the law is."

Hetrick added most the President's orders will unlikely stop gun violence. In his views, Hetrick explained the issue goes beyond restricting guns: social change. Referring to decades of experience, Hetrick said human nature has changed, thus violence. He said people would find other ways to obtain guns or use other illegal means such as bombs.

Hetrick put much blame on glorifying violence in video games and movies. When posed the argument that guns kill people, he responded, "Ban the video games and train your children how to handle a gun."

Hetrick pointed back to previous decades before media and Internet when guns were prevalent in homes without such disruptive chaos. The point he explained through several anecdotes was people's values changed – not guns.

However, one woman believes Mr. Obama's solutions may not solve the problem or be perfect, but that should not inhibit progress.

"Even though it's there -- it could help"

While the president's 23 executive orders took aim at background checks, funding resources, and mental illness education, Hetrick wished he would've done more on fixing the educational system, healthcare system, and value system. Those, Hetrick feels, would have a greater impact.

"If change is going to be made, it's not going to be made by the regulation of government," said Hetrick. "It's going to be made at every household with a discussion and values at the kitchen table."

On Wednesday afternoon, the National Rifle Association released this statement reacting to Obama's actions:

Throughout its history, the National Rifle Association has led efforts to promote safety and responsible gun ownership.  Keeping our children and society safe remains our top priority.

The NRA will continue to focus on keeping our children safe and securing our schools, fixing our broken mental health system, and prosecuting violent criminals to the fullest extent of the law.  We look forward to working with Congress on a bi-partisan basis to find real solutions to protecting America's most valuable asset – our children.

Attacking firearms and ignoring children is not a solution to the crisis we face as a nation.  Only honest, law-abiding gun owners will be affected and our children will remain vulnerable to the inevitability of more tragedy.

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