Gun control policy: One year later - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Gun control policy: One year later


In last year's State of the Union, President Obama released a plan to protect our children and communities by reducing gun violence. 

That plan had four steps: 

1) Close background check loopholes to keep guns out of dangerous hands. 

2) Ban military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and take other common-sense steps to reduce gun violence; 

3) Making schools safer; and

4) Increasing access to mental health services. 

The President signed 23 executive orders last year to try and reduce gun violence. 

East Texans are still responding to the President's plan. 

"He got what he wanted but it was not what he expected. The vote came from the American public and the citizens got in contact with their congressman and their senators and said this is not who we are as a people and what we want as a democracy," says Reeve Jackson, a Smith County defense attorney who marched in two open carry rallies last year. 

Jackson says the President's push for tighter gun laws is failing because American's believe in personal responsibility, "The best way to protect your children and your family is with your own firearm in your own house. You can't rely on the government to come in there when there's an emergency."

Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith says he's really only seen one change since the plan was released, "We have had the privileged of going through some training that the FBI is providing on active shooter."

Several local school districts are making changes by adding armed teachers and faculty members on campus. 

"Students, faculty and community members have accepted the policy and embraced it and have continued to move forward with it. They appreciate the fact that the school board took steps to further protect the students," says Glen Frank, interim superintendent for Huntington ISD. 

Frank hopes other schools will join in the movement. 

"I think the longer schools take a look at it, and the need of safety continues to increase, the need for these policies to spread throughout the state is strong."

Sheriff Smith says we don't need a plan that blames guns. He believes we need a plan that changes how we handle issues like mental health. 

"You can't even hardly count one day here that we don't have something to discuss as far as a mental health patient who really doesn't belong in our jail." 

He says the solution is complex, "A lot of times, when you have more safety you lose a lot of liberty."

But more than a year later, East Texans still agree tragedies like Sandy Hook must be kept from ever happening again. 

In Tuesday night's State of the Union, President Obama said only one thing about gun control. 

"Citizenship means standing up for the lives that gun violence steals from us each day.  I have seen the courage of parents, students, pastors, and police officers all over this country who say "we are not afraid," and I intend to keep trying, with or without Congress, to help stop more tragedies from visiting innocent Americans in our movie theaters, shopping malls, or schools like Sandy Hook."

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