Straub, Knezovich offer their take on gun control laws

SPOKANE, Wash. - Within hours of President Obama announcing sweeping recommendations for gun control restrictions, law enforcement leaders in Spokane County had some idea on how the new regulations might play out.

For immediate actions that don't require Congress, President Barack Obama signed 23 executive orders Wednesday morning, including one for tougher penalties on people who lie on background checks, and another that makes it easier for the government to research gun violence.

He also wants sweeping congressional action including bans on future sales of assault weapons and large ammo clips.

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"If responsible gun owners, if Americans of every background stand up and say, enough, we suffered too much pain and care too much about our children to allow this to continue, then change will, change will come. That's what it's going to take," President Obama said.

Spokane Police Chief Frank Straub said he agrees with parts of what the president said Wednesday, and believes there should be tighter gun laws. Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, on the other hand, said there shouldn't be tighter gun laws, but that current laws should simply be enforced.

One item that Chief Straub agrees with the president on is a ban of high-capacity magazines in assault weapons.

"I don't see where we need to have them available," Straub said.

Another thing Straub agrees with the president on is the need to have background checks for all gun purchases.

Straub wouldn't say whether or not assault weapons themselves should be banned but he agreed with tougher regulations.

"Stricter requirements to possess them. Deeper background investigations to ensure those firearms are in the hands of people that will own them and safeguard them responsibly," Straub said.

Across the Public Safety Building, Sheriff Knezovich disagrees with an assault weapons ban.

"We've done that before, and it didn't do anything for crime or anything else," he said.

Knezovich said he thinks gun laws are already strict enough but that current laws need to be upheld in the courts.

"We make the arrests. What we need is to hold people accountable. We fail to hold people accountable," he said.

Straub and Knezovich did agree, however, that there should be more law enforcement on the street and the criminal justice system should be tough on people who use guns during a crime or obtain them illegally.

Knezovich wants to see sentence multipliers enforced while Straub agrees with longer prison sentences.

"If you're going to use a firearm to commit a crime, you've got to go to prison, you've got to stay in prison," Straub said.

Sheriff's deputies reported their offices received quite a few calls Wednesday from people wondering what the president's speech means to them. Deputies responded, and wanted to remind people, that the president made recommendations Wednesday and nothing else. No new gun laws have been passed.