East Texans reflect on year long gun debate

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - President Obama's 2014State of the Union was all about jobs and the economy.

But last year, guns andgun control lead the national conversation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the aftermath of theNewtown school shooting, schools in East Texas began taking their protectioninto their own hands.

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

"The faculty and communityhave accepted the policy and embraced it," Huntington ISD Interim SuperintendentGlenn Frank said.

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

"With the effectivenessthat we have had, there have been no incidences and I think that the longerschools take a look at it and the need of safety continues to increase, thatthe need for these policies to spread throughout the state is likely," Franksaid.

This battle, on thesurface, may be about guns, but East Texans feel it's outcome will affects muchmore.

"It's reminding us of ourtraditional American values and again, if we lose one, we are at risk of losingall of them," Jackson said.

The president only mentioned gun control oncein tonight's speech, saying that he intends to keep trying, "with orwithout congress, to help stop more tragedies from visiting innocent Americansin our movie theaters, shopping malls, or schools like Sandy Hook."

Copyright 2014 KTRE. All rights reserved.