Local law enforcement support plan
Local law enforcement officials favor most of President Barack Obama's proposals to curb gun violence, and point to stricter background checks and controlling violence on video games as key steps.
They also believe providing more funding to improve school safety and enhancing resources for mental health agencies are among the measures that will help reduce mass shootings.
On Wednesday, Obama unveiled his proposals that include universal background checks and banning military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines like the ones used in the Dec. 14 shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., that claimed the lives of 20 students and six adults.
He used his presidential powers to enact 23 measures that don't require support from lawmakers.
"I would like to see controls on violence on video games," said Coal Township Police Chief William Carpenter. "It's getting out of hand. The videos are more graphic and they make killing fun, which I think is ridiculous."
Carpenter also favors anti-bullying efforts and universal background checks.
"I think we've made major strides in the past couple years in combating bullying, which often leads to retaliatory action taken against bullies or others," he said. "I believe it's a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done to avoid situations from getting out of control."
The chief agrees that severe penalties need to be enforced against people who lie on gun-sale background checks, a small percentage of whom are prosecuted.
He added, "Education also is a big key, especially with children. We need to evaluate and address potential threats with children so we can correct problems in their lives before they express their rage or pain through acts of violence. There are more professionals in schools today who are trained to evaluate children suffering from problems at home that often lead them to be easy targets for bullies. Kids may come to school dirty with torn clothing and very low self-esteem. Those are things they can't control because of their lives at home."
The chief said more funding is needed nationwide to support human service agencies like Children and Youth Services and Mental Health/Mental Retardation. "I believe these agencies are often overlooked and under appreciated. I think they help a lot of people and it's vital to provide them with better resources."
3-day wait suggested
Shamokin Police Chief Edward Griffiths doesn't favor banning all guns, but believes military-style assault weapons should be prohibited and ammunition magazines need to be limited to 10 rounds or fewer.
He said background checks for gun purchases are imperative and believes anyone applying for a permit at the county sheriff's office should have to wait at least three days to acquire one.
He said training of school personnel and security guards, educational programs on gun safety, installing metal detectors and hiring armed guards will help deter people from carrying out massive shootings, but won't prevent all tragedies.
"If someone is determined enough to carry out their destructive plans, they aren't going to be stopped in most cases," Griffiths said. "But we can all do our best to prevent certain situations from getting to that point."
Northumberland County District Attorney Tony Rosini believes taking a "common sense" approach is often the best way to prevent problems from escalating.
"I definitely support universal background checks for purchasing guns," he said. "I also think military-style assault weapons should be banned and high-capacity ammunition magazines need to be limited. They can cause great devastation not only in schools, but on the streets. We all have to compromise for everyone's safety, especially children."
Don't ban assault rifles
Mount Carmel Township Police Chief Brian Hollenbush is OK with background checks, but he doesn't agree with his local colleagues on an assault rifle ban.
"I agree wholeheartedly with background checks for gun permits, but I don't believe in banning assault rifles because I'm a firm believer in the right to bear arms as long as the right people have the guns," he said.
Hollenbush agrees education is important and believes more federal and/or state funding should be allocated to improve safety at schools, work places and all public facilities.