East Texans reflect on year long gun debate - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

East Texans reflect on year long gun debate

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LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) -

President Obama's 2014 State of the Union was all about jobs and the economy.

But last year, guns and gun control lead the national conversation.

While American's may still be divided, East Texans seem to have taken a stance together on the issue.

Last year, the president's speech was clouded by the recent tragedy of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Ct.

Gun control was one of the major topics of the speech, and it was met with controversy.

"Obama called for a vote on gun safety issues, specifically a ban on assault rifles and limiting a magazine capacity," Tyler area Reeve Jackson said.

Jackson says as far as he's concerned the gun legislation push by Obama and Vice President Joe Biden has come up mostly empty.

"He got what he wanted but it was not what he expected," Jackson said. "The vote came from the American public and the citizens got in contact with their congressman and their senators and said this is not who we are as a people."

Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith said that the gun safety problem isn't going anywhere until all levels of law enforcement and government come up with a reasonable solution.

"What Washington does is put a dollar amount on legislation," Smith said. "I don't care how much money you throw at a problem, until you come up with a solution no amount of money is going to fix that problem."

In the aftermath of the Newtown school shooting, schools in East Texas began taking their protection into their own hands.

Huntington ISD is one of several districts now allowing teachers to carry concealed hand guns.

"The faculty and community have accepted the policy and embraced it," Huntington ISD Interim Superintendent Glenn Frank said.

Officials monitoring the program say that it is plausible that more schools will follow.

"With the effectiveness that we have had, there have been no incidences and I think that the longer schools take a look at it and the need of safety continues to increase, that the need for these policies to spread throughout the state is likely," Frank said.

This battle, on the surface, may be about guns, but East Texans feel it's outcome will affects much more.

"It's reminding us of our traditional American values and again, if we lose one, we are at risk of losing all of them," Jackson said.

The president only mentioned gun control once in tonight's speech, saying that he intends to keep trying, "with or without congress, to help stop more tragedies from visiting innocent Americans in our movie theaters, shopping malls, or schools like Sandy Hook."

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