Local clergy push for stronger federal gun laws

The Rev. Andy Bachmann of United Church of Gainesville, shown in this April 26, 2011 file photo, is among local ministers urging stronger gun-control laws.

Erica Brough/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Thursday, April 4, 2013 at 4:35 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, April 4, 2013 at 4:35 p.m.

A contingent of local clergy are pushing for stronger federal gun laws.

The Alachua County Interfaith Alliance is calling for universal background checks and bans on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Clergy members with the group also pressed for Congress to make a federal offense of a “straw man” purchase -- when a person buys a gun to sell to someone who cannot legally purchase one.

“There have been repeated calls from our nation’s leaders to enact ‘common sense’ laws that will restrict access to dangerous firearms from those who might do others harm,” said the Rev. Andy Bachmann, with the United Church of Gainesville. “But we do not believe these are common sense. We believe these are good sense laws.”

Clergy with the United Church of Gainesville, Congregation B’nai Israel, Highlands Presbyterian Church, Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, P’nai Orr and the Muslim Association of North Florida called for the stronger restrictions Thursday during a news conference on the steps of Gainesville City Hall.

They also called for better care and counseling for those with mental illness.

One member of the media attended the news conference.

Louanne Loch, with Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, said the clergy felt they had a “moral obligation” to call for universal background checks.

President Obama has pushed for stronger federal gun regulations since the mass shooting in December at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. It remains to be seen if anything will be approved.

The Democratic-controlled Senate is expected to vote later this month on a bill that includes universal background checks and stronger penalties for gun trafficking.

The National Rifle Association has opposed proposals for stronger regulations as an infringement on the Second Amendment.

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