Mixed local reaction to Obama’s executive action on expanded gun background checks

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SEATTLE -- In the wake of President Obama's executive order expanding firearms background checks, supporters say his action will help close what they call the gun show loophole.

"We applaud the president for taking action," said Geoff Potter, communications director for the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility.

But opponents say Obama's move will not do much to prevent future shootings.

"It would have no effect here," said Phil Shave, executive director of Washington Arms Collectors.

The WAC, which that holds the largest monthly gun shows across Western Washington, says Obama's  executive order will do little to keep criminals away from guns.

In Washington state, I-594 already requires background checks during private sales.

But Obama's supporters say his executive order will make what's in place now even stronger.

"The investment in people and technology that the executive order makes will make our entire background check system better " Potter said.

The new Obama initiative aims to pour a half-billion dollars into fighting the mental health crisis, and seeks to hire more people to conduct background checks.

WAC says it's a good start but not enough.  "$500 million at the federal level (for mental health) isn't adequate; that's not going to do it," Shave said.

Shave added, "People who are already identified as dangerous have not been dealt with."

In fact, even before I-594 went into effect, Shave said his organization performed background checks. But when the state started mandating private sellers do the checks, Shave says they saw a big decrease of private sellers and buyers at their public shows.

"The private transfers go elsewhere, they don't see that the law is reasonable because of overreach," Shave said.

But supporters say stricter gun laws will make a difference.

"We know that stronger gun laws do prevent dangerous people from obtaining firearms," Potter said.

Potter says since I-594 went into effect, 5,300 private sale background checks have been done that wouldn't have been accomplished otherwise. So far, 100 ineligible people have been prevented from obtaining a gun, he said.