From CNN: President Barack Obama on Wednesday proposed background checks on all gun sales and bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines as part of a package of steps to reduce gun violence in the wake of the Newtown school massacre last month.
With relatives of some of the 20 children killed in the Connecticut rampage looking on, Obama signed 23 executive actions that don’t require congressional approval that he said would strengthen background checks and expand safety programs in schools.
He also called on Congress to reinstate an assault weapons ban that expired in 2004, to restrict ammunition magazines to no more than 10 rounds, and to require a background check on anyone buying a gun, whether at a store or in a private sale at an auction or convention.
Obama proposed legislative steps he previously has backed, such as reinstating the Clinton-era ban on assault weapons, and also requested that funds be made available to help treat mental illness and provide schools with support to enhance their safety.
To view the president’s plan, click this link:
To the newsrooms of ACM, this is a great opportunity to begin the debate in your communities on where they stand on the issue of gun control. Today, we urge you to localize this story if you are not already, getting feedback from your local legislators, NRA supporters, city and school officials, gun shop owners and hunters. Use your social media tools to get instant feedback on this story from readers. If you are an AP member, post the story to your website, and then post a link to the story on your social media sites and ask for reaction.
Publish that reaction in print tomorrow.
But, what if you took it a step further? This legislation and this topic will affect nearly all communities ACM serves. Consider putting together a special report series on the topic as soon as possible. Here are some story subjects that could be included in the story. I am sure you will come up with your own that will be market-specific as well:
1) School safety: Profile what your local school districts are doing to keep students safe in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., tragedy. Have they increased their school resource officer program? Are they considering arming teachers or administrators?
2) Local gun sales: Talk with gun-store owners on their view of the national dialogue involving gun sales and gun use. What steps do they take to do background checks? Is it enough? Is it too much? Are they concerned the national dialogue on gun safety is hurting business?
3) The mental factor: Much has been made on the mental instability of those who have committed gun crimes. Talk with a local mental health professional on what they see as the issues on this topic. Are violent movies, video games and TV shows having a negative affect on our children and society? Do they believe there should be stricter mental health screening for those purchasing guns and ammo? How are they trying to help their community in light of what is taking place on the national stage?
4) The sportsman: Talk with local hunters and gun sportsman about gun safety. Talk about the traditions that surround gun use in this country when it comes to hunting and sports. Interview those who may frequent any local gun ranges in your area. Interview instructors are gun safety classes.
5) Law enforcement: What does your local police chief or sheriff think of the national dialogue? Do they see stricter gun laws and screening as a factor in reducing the number of violent, gun crimes in your region? What are the crime stats in your city and county? Up or down when involving a firearm?
Folks, these are just five ideas stories that could be involved in a series. I bet you could come up with more.
There is no question this is a major topic of discussion around water coolers, kitchen tables and diners in your market.
Let’s turn a local eye on this issue.