Greensboro, NC -- President Barack Obama's announcement of his proposals to curb gun violence in the US drew mixed reactions from the men and women who represent the Triad in Congress. Here's a snapshot of what they said.
Statement from Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC, 5th District):
"Just over one month has passed since the devastating tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut that cost the lives of twenty-six innocent people.
Our national response must not be shortsighted as constitutional liberties are at stake. New laws will do us no good if they burden responsible gun owners and small businesses but fail to stop sick people before they turn to evil.
But if bipartisan ideas considered in Congress, per the separation of powers, are carefully scrutinized for their effectiveness and constitutionality, I am hopeful we can arrive at a solution that protects the most innocent and vulnerable among us while honoring the foundational Second Amendment rights of millions of law-abiding American citizens."
Statement from Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC):
"I will fight any effort to further infringe on the Second Amendment rights of American citizens, whether it is legislation or executive action by the President.
I am open to having a conversation about ways in which our nation can address mental health issues and reduce violence, but I will not stand by while the President and others try to restrict the rights of law-abiding American citizens."
Statement from Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC, 2nd District):
"President Obama is once again exploiting a tragedy for political gain and eroding our constitutional rights for the sake of an extreme liberal agenda. We need to have a serious discussion on how we can prevent troubled individuals from carrying out their insane intentions. But attacking our legal rights and liberties through abusive executive orders destroys the very principles that have protected our citizens from oppressive government power for over 236 years."
Statement from Rep. Mel Watt (D-NC, 12th District):
"I am extremely pleased that President Obama has acted quickly to charge a Task Force headed by Vice President Biden to formulate a responsible, yet prompt, response to the senseless shootings that took place in Newtown, Connecticut. I am also pleased that the President has acted to come forward today with what appears to be a comprehensive and common-sense series of administrative and legislative proposals.
While I have not yet had the opportunity to study the parts of the President's proposal that will require congressional action with the degree of care that will be required before we can act, I see nothing in my quick review that causes me to react in any way other than positively. As a member of the House Judiciary Committee, I will be among those who have the responsibility for reviewing these proposals carefully from both a common sense and constitutional perspective and I pledge to do so. The President has done a great service by coming forward with a comprehensive set of proposals. It is now time for us to do our part."
In an interview with WFMY News 2, Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) said that lawmakers must understand "what is going on in society today" as they determine the best course of action. Hagan advocated a "common-sense debate" and a "comprehensive approach" that includes examining existing gun laws, measuring the access mentally ill people have to guns and understanding what role violent video games have on spurring crime.
Hagan also made it clear the Constitution must be protected during any debate about gun control.
"We have a second amendment on our Constitution that affords responsible gun owners the right to have weapons," she said. "We are not taking your weapons away. My family is a long line of hunters. And I know that we have a strong second amendment right in our Constitution and we need to uphold that."
In an interview with WFMY News 2, Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC, 6th District) said he doesn't think there is a need for sweeping change to gun control laws.
"I'm concerned that what seems to me to be a mental health issue has developed into a firearms issue," Rep. Coble said. "And I think there may be some overreaction. And as tragic as the attacks [in 2012] were, I don't know that [increasing] restrictions on the types of guns and types of ammunition would have any impact on subsequent attacks that may be in plan now."