President Barack Obama's proposals to curb gun violence may be a hard sell in York.

"You can't stop people from doing bad things. You can't stop crazy," said York City resident William Bolt.

A ban on assault rifles, which is proposed by Obama, would do little or nothing to stop gun crimes, Bolt said, adding that if someone wants a gun, they'll find a way to get one, usually through illegal means.

Another of the president's proposals is to limit high-capacity magazines, but that too would have little affect on someone bent on firing a lot of rounds, even from a gun with a 10-bullet magazine, in a short amount of time, he said.

"You can replace a magazine in under a second," Bolt said.

David Moore of York City said that there should be limits on who can own guns. Those with mental illness shouldn't be allowed to own guns, and those who have committed any crime should not be allowed to receive a license to carry guns.

"If you have any charges, you shouldn't be allowed to carry a gun," Moore said.

Police: Arthur Smith, chief of West Manchester Township Police, said there's no easy answer to curbing gun violence.

There are a number of factors that need to be looked at, he said, including mental health, society in general and the illegal sale and possession of firearms.

"I don't know what the answer is," Smith said. "I don't know if gun control is the answer. I don't think it's any one thing.


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While there aren't any easy answers to addressing gun violence, many feel that something has to be done, Smith said.

"You have something like Sandy Hook or Columbine and we say, 'We have to do something,'" the chief said. "So everybody is punished for the actions of a few."

If more stringent laws were passed, law abiding gun owners would be the ones who follow the laws while criminal elements likely would not, he said.

Straw purchases: Citing straw purchases as an example, Smith said criminals who may not be legally allowed to purchase guns find ways to get a gun.

A straw purchase occurs when someone who wouldn't pass a background check and is not eligible to buy a gun has someone who is eligible make the purchase for them.

While not addressed in Obama's executive actions, there are already stiff penalties in place for those who are convicted that crime.

It is a federal crime, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, to make a straw purchase.

In Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Corbett signed last fall a law that restores a five-year minimum sentence for those convicted of making repeat straw purchases of firearm.

Gun shows: One measure the president wants Congress to take up is requiring background checks for all gun buyers in an attempt to close the so-called "gun-show loophole" that allows people to buy guns at trade shows and over the Internet without submitting to background checks.

John Lamplough, owner of the Carlisle-based Appalachian Promotions, said such a measure wouldn't affect his gun show business.

Appalachian Promotions puts on gun shows in Pennsylvania and Maryland, including regular shows at the York Expo Center. The next one in York is slated for Feb. 23 and 24.

Before the president's measures can become laws, they have to pass in the Republican-controlled Congress, something Lamplough said will be no easy task.

Even if gun bans are put in place, he said people will still legally be able to buy guns, and buy guns they will.

"Tell Americans they can't have something and they want it twice as bad," Lamplough said.

- Reach Greg Gross at ggross@yorkdispatch.com.