After a month of pitching ideas on how to curb gun violence, Petersburg Police Chief John I. Dixon III heard dozens of his ideas proposed to the nation. Dixon arrived in full uniform to the White House Wednesday, invited as thanks for his work on the Vice President's gun safety panel.
"It's amazing to be part of history," said Dixon as he stood in front of the White House. "To be able to direct the conversation on how we as a country take on gun violence in a meaningful way is incredible."
Vice President Joe Biden selected Dixon for the task force six days after tragedy unfolded at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Petersburg's police chief is one of five chiefs on the panel, chosen because of his long-standing achievements, as well as his position as vice president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives.
President Obama endorsed one of Dixon's primary recommendations, extending background checks to sales made at gun shows. Currently, the nation's "gun show loophole" allows buyers to purchase weapons without background checks.
"If you don't have those [checks], that means anybody can come in, purchase a weapon, and you don't know if the person is a convicted felon, or a mentally unstable person," said Dixon. "You need some kind of period that will transpire before somebody can obtain a weapon."
Critics say President Obama's proposed ban on assault weapons announced Wednesday goes too far. But Dixon contends his main focus, and the President's objective is not to ban all guns - but to make sure only law-abiding citizens have them.
"The focus is to make sure that these weapons don't get into the hands of the wrong people," said Dixon. "We all follow certain laws for all of our privileges in society. This is no different."
Petersburg's chief asked the public for suggestions before he submitted his final set of recommendations to Washington. He received thousands of ideas, and said most of them were insightful. As for the chances of the new proposals passing, Dixon remains optimistic.
"I think the American public is ready for this. I think we will see an outcry to prevent these incidents like in Connecticut, and how to prevent the everyday incidents using assault weapons on our streets.
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