Valley gun owners react to Senate gun control vote

FRESNO, Calif.

Thursday's 68 to 31 vote gave an early burst of momentum to efforts by President Obama and lawmakers to push fresh gun restrictions through Congress. The National Rifle Association, along with many republicans and some moderate Democrats, already said the proposals go too far.

"I believe the government should focus on keeping firearms out of the hands of criminals and those with mental issues that could cause them to be a threat to society," said Republican Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Others disagree.

"We're going to have to have a vote on assault weapons. Some people love that, some people hate that," argued Democratic Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Next week, the senate will consider a bipartisan compromise that extends federal background checks to purchases made at gun shows and online. The vote came four months after a gunman killed 20 first graders and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

Gun owners in Fresno said they're in favor of expanding background checks, but argued some of the other gun-control proposals are an infringement on the constitutional right to own guns.

"I think the ideas need to get out there, I think people need to talk about this. I don't think they need to be close minded. I think they need to be open-minded whether you're a republican, democrat, I don't care what you are," said Gilmay Guns Owner Sharon Mayfield.

Like many of the customers who shop in her store, Mayfield says she doesn't support all of the ideas being discussed.

"Right now it's a background check. It's not a registration in California and if they make it into a background check/registration, we're going to see databases being built and that's not something I or my customers are happy about because I don't want them to know what guns I have," she said.

Shoppers said guns are already difficult to buy in the heavily regulated state of California.

They're already making us wait 11 days," said Clint Hardy. "I mean how long does it take to do a background check?"

The senate's firearms bill would subject nearly all gun buyers to background checks by extending them to purchases made at gun shows and online. It would also add muscle to federal laws barring illicit firearm sales and provide slightly more money for school safety measures.

Excluded were proposals to ban military style weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, something Democrats said they plan to reintroduce and members of the anti-violence group Peace Fresno are advocating for.

"Times are a changing and we have to realize and adjust to them. We have to realize that the guns we have are not only more dangerous, but they're easier, easier for even a child to cause so much harm, so much damage," said member Richard Gomez.

Gun Owners at Gilmay Guns disagreed. Mayfield said there needs to be more focus on proposals concerning mental health issues to differentiate between returning soldiers readjusting to society and those with more dangerous conditions.

"I think they need to have an adjudicated mental health issue, not just I'm having problems dealing with issues getting back from Iraq, nothing serious, just help me get back into society, " she said. "We're seeing a lot of those people being told they can't have guns, because they have a mental health issue. They're not dangerous to anybody. They're taking medications, now they can't have a firearm and that's the part I think it wrong."

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