shooting_nighttime.jpgWith the nation still reeling from the mass shooting last week at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., the polarizing issue of gun control has taken center stage, including in the Bay Area.

This massacre has spurred elected leaders to re-examine gun regulations, and President Barack Obama addressed the issue during a briefing in Washington, D.C., this morning.

“We know this is a complex issue that stirs deeply held passions and political divides,” he said. “But the fact that this problem is complex can no longer be an excuse for doing nothing.”

Obama announced that Vice President Joe Biden will lead an effort to come up with “concrete proposals” about gun law reforms with a January deadline.

He said Biden has been chosen for the task because he wrote a 1994 crime bill, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which included an assault weapons ban that expired in 2004.

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who worked on the 1994 assault weapons ban, plans to introduce a bill that would renew the ban when Congress reconvenes.

San Francisco resident Ruth Rosenblatt, a retired elementary school teacher from New York, said she hopes the president’s words will spur changes to the nation’s gun laws.
“(Assault weapons) should not be in people’s hands,” she said.

Shane Hardin has lived in San Francisco for 10 years, but he is from the Central Valley and said he has seen how easy it is to purchase guns there.

“Guns are too accessible,” he said. “There should be more regulation.”

Shikha Hamilton has been working with the national Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence through the San Mateo/Santa Clara chapter.

She said Friday’s shooting may be what it takes for the assault weapons ban to “come back to life and be stronger and permanent.”

“The issue is, gun control has always become politicized,” she said. “And they forget lives are being lost daily.”

She said she is hopeful that change will happen, especially after talking to gun owners who have agreed with her that gun violence is “out of control.”

“Let’s rethink this,” she said. “Someone does not need ammunition clips that can shoot 30 rounds.”

A silent protest led by the Brady Campaign will be held Saturday morning in San Francisco’s Justin Herman Plaza to push for stricter gun laws.

The noon protest will include moments of silence for the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting, with participants wearing black joining in a “lie in” on the ground.

Many gun enthusiasts and groups, including the National Rifle Association, have stayed relatively quiet in the days since the shooting.

A man answering the phone this morning at the Richmond Rod and Gun Club said in response to Obama’s speech and Friday’s shooting, “I don’t think we will be making any comment at this time.”

Sasha Lekach, Bay City News

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