One of the most controversial parts of President Obama’s plan to cut down on gun violence is his call to ban assault-style weapons and magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.
At the center of the debate is whether these bans would make a difference. We put that question to experts who deal with guns and criminals every day.
Sullivan County sheriff Wayne Anderson, says, "In my 38 years, we've never had, that I could remember, a criminal that used a gun that was registered to that criminal. Almost every time, if they had a gun, it was stolen."
He tell News 5 laws don't stop criminals from committing crimes, so gun bans won't keep them from getting guns. Even if certain guns are banned moving forward, he says, it won't take the guns already on the streets out of circulation.
Don Reimer, store manager at Shooters Edge in Piney Flats, says, "Even if there's a gun ban put in effect today, there are 350 million guns already out there. They're available for somebody."
Not every gun owner agrees. Gerry Gray is a Virginia prosecutor. "If it's one less gun that folks can have access to, then there's a possibility, not necessarily a likelihood, but a possibility that you can avoid another disaster," he told us.
Gray knows both sides of the debate; not only does he prosecute gun violence cases, but he's also a gun owner. Even so, he's in favor of banning assault-style weapons, and even thinks we should take gun-restrictions even further. "I think that not only should they not be allowed to buy them, I don't think that they should be allowed to possess them, whether they've already purchased one or not," he said.
He also supports a ban on magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.
Gun proponents, however, argue that limiting magazine size won't do much good. Dave Peterson argues, "If someone was to come in to a mall, a school, a hospital, wherever, to do a whole bunch of people harm," he said, "they pull out their weapon, they start firing, the press the button, they grab another clip. How many times can this motion happen in the average 7 to 10 minutes by the time the police get there?"
But to Gray the whole idea is to limit the ability of people who may be using a firearm for destructive purposes. Limit their ability to kill a number of people in a very short period of time, he said.
For now, the proposal to ban 120 types of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines is just that -- a proposal. It’s up to lawmakers to decide what to do with that bill.