RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – David Knight says he was filled with hope and pride Wednesday as President Obama signed 23 separate executive actions aimed at curbing the nation’s gun violence.
The emotional ceremony at the White House was held one month after a mass shooting that killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
“I’m so grateful to our president who has the foresight and the courage to take this step,” Knight says.
Knight’s 17-year-old son, Jamie, was killed in a 1997 armed robbery at a restaurant where he worked.
“It’s been 16 years since our son Jamie was murdered and every year we watch with sadness and disgust when our legislators will not support common sense gun safety legislation,” Knight says.
The president’s proposals aim to strengthen background checks and improve mental health and gun safety programs. Obama is also asking congress to pass legislation to ban assault weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines for civilians.
While Knight welcomes the president’s suggestions, several gun enthusiasts say their rights and safety are being threatened by the president.
By one o’clock Wednesday afternoon, Bob Moates Gun Shop in Chesterfield County was packed with concerned customers.
“Ever since they talked about banning additional weapons, the sales have gone up ten times,” says store manager David Hancock.
He says handguns, hunting rifles and ammunition are quickly disappearing from the shelves and assault weapons remain sold out. Hancock says many customers are fearful that congress will pass the president’s proposal to ban assault weapons.
“The honest person is the only person really affected by this,” Hancock argues. “Criminals do not obey the law, it’s that simple.”
David Knight disagrees.
While he believes no single piece of legislation will stop gun violence in this country, he says the president’s actions mark a turning point in this country in stopping gun violence and saving innocent lives.
“We hope congress will have the strength and the backbone to make that possible,” Knight says.