CLEVELAND - On the eve of a massive and unprecedented shooting the President addressed the country Friday saying among other remarks, "We're going to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics."
His comments geared towards gun control, an issue the President has up until now tried to avoid, is rekindling the flames in the debate of 2nd Amendment rights in our country. It's a debate Stonewall Shooting Range owner Diane Donnett said we shouldn't blame in this situation.
Several gun enthusiasts packed the Broadview Heights store and range Saturday also discussing the Friday shooting.
"It's heart wrenching," Donnett said, "I feel for these parents. I just want to hug my own child, but I'm not angry at the gun. I'm angry at society for allowing this young man to reach the age of 20 and not knowing right from wrong, not knowing that this is wrong."
Donnett argued, those who want to commit crimes and murders will find a way to do so and added, enforcing stricter gun laws would only turn gun law abiding citizens into targets for thieves looking to get their hands on a firearm.
But Reggie Rucker, an anti-violence activist, former Browns planer and gun owner himself, couldn't be further away from Donnett on this debate.
"That's the platform the gun fraternity has used forever. That's what they always say, guns don't kill anybody, people do. Okay, uh, literally, that's not true, that gun killed that person," said Rucker, also President of the Cleveland Peacemaker Alliance.
In looking at other states, the Brady Campaign notes California has the lowest mortality rate from firearms in the nation, due to strict gun laws that resulted from their own school shooting 23-years-ago.
In the Connecticut tragedy, officials said 20-year-old Adam Lanza attacked an elementary school Friday, armed with a semi-automatic assault rifle and at least two high powered pistols. CNN has also reported he successfully tried to purchase a firearm from a Dick's Sporting Goods store days before.
On the phone, Cleveland Director of Public Safety told NewsChannel5, "The shocking number, at least for me, is the number of guns that are actually in the United States. Depending on what data you look at, there's somewhere between 200-million and 300 million guns in the United States." Flask and Mayor Frank Jackson have been vocal proponents of stricter gun laws in the inner city.
"We've got to come together and have a discussion about this," said Rucker, "I mean we all know what we're dealing with here. We're dealing with the 2nd Amendment and the right to bear arms. But the 2nd Amendment, the right to bear arms, that was because they wanted you to have some way to defend yourself. They weren't thinking about you taking that can shoot 120 rounds a minute and take it into a classroom and kill innocent kids."
Back at the gun range, a gun trainer NewsChannel5 spoke with didn't know the solution but said, education is key.
"It's one of those situations may have done nothing. you know, they, but I don't know it's hard to say," said the trainer who asked not to be named.
Donnett noted background checks on potential gun owners would be more successful if records of possible mental illness weren't sealed to the public. But she reinforced her argument again telling NewsChannel5, "It was not the gun's fault and I get very aggravated from people that blame the gun. It's society's fault. Okay. We failed this young man, somehow we failed him. Everybody says your children are raised by your community, so how was this young man failed?"
It's not clear what this debate means for Northeast Ohio or the state for that matter, but it's an issue some parents have vowed to raise with their lawmakers as we continue to learn what unfolded in Newtown, CT.