Gun control wouldn't have stopped the tragedy in which 20 schoolchildren and six educators were shot to death, and using the incident as cover to revoke Second Amendment rights will only make it worse for law-abiding citizens, Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, said Wednesday.
Stewart and Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, both reacted negatively to gun control measures outlined by President Barack Obama on Wednesday, saying the president is infringing on constitutional rights. Bishop, a former school teacher in Brigham City, and Stewart, a former Air Force pilot who lives in Farmington, represent House districts that include the Top of Utah.
Sen. Mike Lee also joined in the chorus against the initiatives, suggesting the president is advancing proposals that will do little, if anything, to prevent tragedies like the one last month in Newtown, Conn.
The potential measures include:
* Requiring criminal background checks on all gun sales.
* Limiting ammunition magazines to 10 rounds.
* Banning military-style assault weapons.
* Toughening penalties for gun trafficking.
Lee, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a news release he welcomes debate to ensure that the rights of citizens are not infringed and public safety is not diminished.
Stewart thinks the initiatives may hurt more than help in the long run.
"I am convinced that gun control is not the way to prevent tragedies, like the one in Newtown, and will likely only make it harder for law-abiding citizens to protect themselves against the evil in the world. I plan to do all in my power to protect the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens," Stewart said.
Bishop said Obama is reintroducing policies that have failed in the past.
"He (Obama) is either unaware of or ignoring American history and is therefore doomed to repeated failures," the former high school history teacher said.
Stewart said the way to create a safer environment is to do a better job of enforcing laws already on the books, not to press for more gun control measures.
Obama also signed a series of 23 executive orders intended to augment mental health measures, make more federal data available for background checks and end a freeze on government research on gun violence.
But he acknowledged that the steps he took on his own would have less impact than the broad measures requiring approval from Capitol Hill.
"To make a real and lasting difference, Congress, too, must act," Obama said, speaking at a White House ceremony with schoolchildren and their parents. "And Congress must act soon."
Bishop said a representative government is not one where the chief executive dictates and legislates through executive fiat.
"The President could choose to try to work with Congress, instead of around it. There should be discussions on ways to protect our constitutional rights and also empower states and communities to find ways to limit the promotion of violence in the lives of children and young adults. The best solutions do not always originate in Washington, and the answers to most problems are rarely just more rules and regulations," Bishop said.
Stewart also opposed the use of executive orders to enact some gun measures. He called the maneuver "unacceptable."
Lee said without specifics it is impossible to measure the impact of the president's proposals.
"I am deeply concerned that the president's approach is inconsistent with fundamental Second Amendment rights and encroaches on the authorities of state and local governments," Lee said.
Information from the Associated Press is included in this article.