A US woman on why she disagrees with Obama on gun control

Kate Andrews at a shooting range

US President Barack Obama had to wipe away tears as he explained why he's determined to toughen up America's gun laws.

"Every single year more than 30,000 Americans have their lives cut short by guns. Thirty thousand."

"Hundreds of thousands of Americans have lost brothers and sisters, or buried their own children," he said.

But while he wants change, Newsbeat's been speaking to a 25-year-old American woman about why she thinks he's wrong.

The first gun Kate Andrews ever fired was an AK-47. And she loved it.

"It was the first day of my new job at an office in Texas and these assault rifles were just propped up in the corner," she says.

"I'd never even touched a gun. But I soon realised they were there because at lunchtime, people would go to the shooting range to fire them."

One day, Kate's colleagues took her to the range. She says it totally changed how she felt about guns.

"It was exhilarating, a little bit nerve-wracking but the amount of responsibility that comes over you when you start learning how to shoot a gun... It's a very grown up experience. It made me mature a little bit."

There are millions of guns in America and only a tiny fraction are used to hurt people
Kate Andrews

Kate now lives in the UK and admits she gets lots of people asking why she thinks guns are a good thing.

Her answer: "Guns save lives. If you're a young single woman living in a dodgy part of town, or if you're a family living in the country miles from a police station, sometimes your only source of protection is a gun."

"You never want to use it against somebody but you might be forced to have it as a deterrent."

Kate thinks it's impossible for people in the UK to understand why Americans love their guns - because they've never grown up with the culture.

"They're a big part of family bonding. Lots of parents take their kids, boys and girls, on their first hunt. It's a real rite of passage for many families."

Kate Andrews shooting at a firing range
Image caption Kate Andrews

It's an American's legal right to own a gun.

Kate's also frustrated by President Obama's determination to toughen up the law on firearms, following a run of mass shootings.

He wants to make sure there are more background checks on people before they're allowed to own one.

That's not the answer, according to Kate.

"Many guns used in mass shootings have been bought legally and these people have had background checks."

"There are millions of guns in America and only a tiny fraction are used to hurt people," she tells Newsbeat.

A protest against guns in America

But wouldn't fewer guns mean fewer deaths?

"Not at all. What America has totally failed to do is address the real problem. So many mass shootings are carried out by people, often young men, who are mentally ill," she claims.

"But as a country, we've totally ignored the issue."

"We shouldn't be looking at background checks. We should be teaching people to use guns responsibly and doing more to help those with mental health issues."

"That's how to tackle mass shootings in America."

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