Local firearms enthusiasts don’t think changes to background check guidelines announced by President Barack Obama this week will reduce gun violence, though some don’t see any harm in them and acknowledge they may have come from good intentions.

One piece of the executive actions announced Tuesday by Obama notes that anyone “in the business” of selling firearms will have to get a federal firearms dealer license and thus be required to conduct background checks on buyers before selling any guns, including at gun shows and in one-on-one sales through classified advertisements.

Robert Sibley, of Augusta, who hunts, shoots in gun ranges recreationally and carries a concealed handgun, said the change in background check guidelines will have no effect on him, and he has no worries about going through a background check himself. He just doesn’t think it will have the desired effect of improving safety.

“I’m in the National Rifle Association, so obviously I’m a strong advocate for gun rights, but I don’t think Obama has some extreme idea or goal to end gun ownership,” Sibley said. “I think his heart is in the right place, but he’s misguided in what’s going to help.”

Sibley said violent criminals still will be able to get guns even with increased background checks. He said if some people are so dangerous that they shouldn’t be allowed to have a gun, then they shouldn’t be out in society in the first place. He said they should be in jail.

“I’m actually going to go buy a gun tomorrow, and I’m going to go through a background check,” he said. “But if I’ve been to jail, or I’m a felon, I’m not going to go somewhere where I’d have to go through a background check. I don’t think a background check is going to slow anybody down who shouldn’t have one.”

Earlier this week, Sibley helped family friend Katherine Pollock, a 2007 Richmond High School graduate now living in Connecticut, learn the ins and outs of shooting guns at an Inland Fisheries and Wildlife outdoor shooting range in Augusta.

Pollock said she had shot a gun only once or twice before and she wanted to learn how to shoot safely. She plans to get a gun permit, which is required in order to have a gun where she lives outside of Hartford, Connecticut, so she first wants to make sure she knows how to use a gun safely.

She has no problem with Obama’s plan to increase background checks in gun sales, even if the change might not have a huge effect in reducing gun violence.

“I feel like even though it may not cause a drastic change, because people will still have a way of getting guns, I still think having background checks is a safe thing to do,” she said. “I feel like it is a pretty good idea as a preventive measure.”

She said she enjoyed shooting for pleasure but also wanted to know how to shoot safely and get a gun permit so she could have a gun, because in Connecticut gun laws are so strict that people there are getting guns illegally.

She said the change requiring background checks for gun sales would not affect her, because if and when she gets a gun, she plans to do so from a licensed dealer.

Licensed dealers already are required to do background checks, no matter where they sell guns, including at gun shows.

In Maine, however, in private sales of guns between nondealers, no background checks are required.

Sibley said Obama’s provisions violate the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by infringing on people’s rights to own firearms.

He said he’s got co-workers who buy and sell firearms with others in private sales, but said they aren’t selling their guns to make a profit; they’re doing it so they can afford to buy other guns in their place, to try out different firearms. He said people should be at liberty to buy and sell guns to each other without background checks.

He also said if there were fewer nonviolent offenders in prison, it would free up more space to keep violent criminals in prison for longer periods.

Amos Herrera, a gunsmith at Fox Firearms Sales & Training in Vassalboro, said Obama hasn’t defined what “in the business” of selling firearms means. Customers at the gun shop, range and gun safety training facility have expressed concern the president is trying to strengthen the executive branch so he ultimately can impede the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms through future executive orders, he said.

Herrera said he’s yet to read a gun law that would improve safety.

“We’re all for keeping people safe and making sure people who shouldn’t have firearms don’t,” he said. However, he doesn’t believe the changes will improve safety or address the tragic shootings Obama has cited in issuing his executive orders.

“The gun laws we have are not targeting the gun violence that took place,” Herrera said. “Nothing (Obama) has prescribed would have affected any of those situations.”

He said one way to improve safety would be to put laws in place to provide people with better access to firearms safety training, including offering it as an elective class in public schools.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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