By Sarah Okeson and Michael Gulledge, Springfield News-Leader
Many in conservative southwest Missouri where hunting and target shooting are popular didn't think much of President Barack Obama's proposals to reduce gun violence. Even the father of a Bolivar man facing charges for allegedly planning to shoot up a movie theater panned the president's ideas.
"They can put together 100 different gun laws, and I don't think that will make any difference going forward," said Bill Lammers. "If you look at the case in Connecticut, he took his mother's guns."
Obama's effort, announced Wednesday, includes proposed bans on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines and more than a dozen executive orders aimed at circumventing congressional opposition to stricter gun control.
Lammers' mentally ill son, Blaec, 20, was arrested in November after authorities say he admitted to planning to shoot up a movie theater. He bought an AR-15 and another semi-automatic from the Bolivar Walmart, the same store where here he was found three years earlier carrying a butcher knife and a Halloween mask with plans to kill a clerk.
Lammers said his son legally bought the weapons after going through a background check that didn't show his repeated stays in mental hospitals. He said laws about reporting mental problems need to be strengthened.
"He's been an inpatient seven times in mental hospitals," Lammers said. "All of those seven stays went under the radar. There's a problem with that."
Dr. Jim Blaine, who spent much of his career in emergency medicine, said it makes sense to make it more difficult to get assault weapons but he doesn't support an outright ban.
"I've been to gun shows for years," said Blaine who owns two shotguns and a rifle. "I like them. But you can go in there and buy or sell a gun without even giving your name. I've done that. And it's legal. You see lots of people walking around with guns for sale. If you agree to a price, you just pay them in cash and it's yours."
Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott said he had mixed feelings about Obama's proposal.
Arnott said he wasn't opposed to stiffer penalties for those who lie on background checks or enhancement to information included in the background checks, at least on the surface of the proposal.
But Arnott was adamantly opposed to restrictions and bans on weapons.
"All that does I push up price for citizens to purchase those weapons," Arnott said. He said a ban or restriction was "a political move."
Steve Ijames, a retired major from the Springfield police department who does police training in less-than-lethal force, said he opposes banning specific weapons.
"I never had any trouble with an honest person with a gun," Ijames said.
Adam Gier, the co-owner of Eagle Pawn & Jewelry, said the business sold its last two magazines for AR-15s just hours after Obama's speech. The pawn shop has sold about 130 of the magazines in the last week.
"We did about $100,000 in business in guns and ammunition in December and that was just for the last two weeks of December," Gier said. "We're approaching $50,000 so far for January."
Roofer Cody Sharp was looking at pistols at the pawn shop. He didn't think Obama's proposals will be successful.
"It's like trying to outlaw drugs," Sharp said. "It's not going to work. The people who shouldn't have them are going to find a way to get them."
Mail carrier Brenda Beattie said she plans to buy a gun soon. She already took a conceal carry class and is thinking about a Glock 19.
"I don't know anybody who believes in gun control," Beattie said. "It's not that you're going to go out and shoot somebody, but you should be able to protect yourself."
David Romano, an associate professor at Missouri State University, grew up in Canada where people can be prosecuted for defending themselves against an intruder. Romano said that if Obama's proposals don't prove to be effective they are "political fluff."
"Tragedies happen, and politicians feel the need to do something," Romano said.
He owns a shotgun and two bolt-action rifles.
"I like the fact that they're here," Romano said. "I like the fact that if I'm out of the country on a business trip my wife has a shotgun."
Peggy Siler, the co-owner of Ozark Shooters Sports Complex in Walnut Shade, said society needs to focus more on mentally ill people than on gun control laws.
"So many of the things that he wants to do will hurt honest gun owners," Siler said. "We all have the right to keep and bear arms."
Lammers owns guns himself, seven pistols and six or seven guns and rifles. He said he keeps them locked up.
Lammers said so many high-capacity ammunition magazines have been sold recently that he didn't think Obama's ban on those would be effective.
"If they signed a bill today, they've already doubled or tripled what's out there," Lammers said.
Lammers said he initially questioned the idea of armed guards in schools but now thinks it's a good idea.
"We live in a society that's dangerous," Lammers said. "You need good guys with guns who will protect you from bad guys with guns. If you tell all the law-abiding citizens to turn in their guns, that just leaves the bad guys with guns."