By Mark Scheer
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — New gun control legislation may sound impressive to some, but Dennis Deasy isn’t convinced it will stop the type of shooting violence it is intended to prevent.
Deasy, who has owned and operated the Niagara Gun Range on Niagara Falls Boulevard in the Town of Wheatfield for the past 17 years, views the state move to impose stiffer gun laws as more of a public relations stunt than a comprehensive approach to improving public safety.
“Hopefully, they’ll sit back for a few minutes, stop getting so excited, let their blood pressure come down a few points and start looking at this rationally,” said Deasy, whose business sells firearms and ammunition and offers an indoor firing range and training. “If you are going to pass a law, pass a law that makes sense, pass a law that is going to be effective.”
The Associated Press reported Monday evening that state lawmakers in Albany had reached an agreement on a bill that would broaden the state’s definition of banned assault weapons, increase penalties for criminals committing crimes with guns and implementing a statewide registry for assault rifle owners. Part of the effort reportedly involves a reduction in the maximum capacity of an ammunition magazine from 10 rounds to seven.
Deasy pointed to communities in other parts of the country - including President Barack Obama’s own hometown Chicago, Ill. — as places where gun laws have been strengthened, but the violence has continued.
“The bottom line is the criminals are going to get their hands on the guns,” Deasy said. “It’s going to create a situation that’s worse.”
Deasy’s recommendation: expand programs for the mentally ill and mandate reporting of questionable statements and behaviors by mental health professionals who are dealing with individuals who may be more likely to use a gun to commit mass murder. He also believes more should be done to limit the violence young people often encounter in the media, video games in particular.
“When I was growing up as a kid, everybody knew that there were firearms in the house and nobody touched them,” he said. “I’ve seen the situation change. The kids are being desensitized to the violence. I can play one of these video games, finish the game and walk away and I can make the distinction between fantasy and reality. They cannot.”
Robert Chambers, president of the Iroquois Arms Collectors Association, a sportsmen’s organization consisting of members from Niagara and Erie counties that traces its roots back to the 1800s, said he too believes newly proposed gun standards will not produce the desired outcome.
Chambers views the latest round of control efforts as an attempt by state and federal lawmakers to divert the public’s attention from more pressing concerns in America - like the alarming rate of suicides among the nation’s veterans.
Chambers said he finds it upsetting that while the U.S. Veterans Administration is reporting than an average of 18 veterans commit suicide every day, state and federal lawmakers are taking a hard line on gun control under the guise that it will better protect the public.
“They are trying to chip away at the Second Amendment instead of dealing with the issues at hand,” Chambers said.