He's not necessarily opposed to gun ownership.
But the president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence said the guns must be acquired legally, and the owners must realize there are risks and responsibilities that go with gun ownership.
Paul Helmke, who heads the grassroots organization named after Jim Brady President Ronald Reagan's press secretary who was seriously injured during a 1981 assassination attempt, spoke Thursday before the Akron Roundtable.
Helmke said 30,000 Americans die from gunshot wounds every year, and 70,000 are injured. About 35 percent of the nation's households have a gun.
''Those with guns in their homes are 21 times more likely to use a gun against themselves or a family member than to use for protection from the bad guys,'' Helmke said.
He said the nation needs to reform its laws dealing with guns.
''A lot of people seem to think there are a lot of laws that deal with guns,'' Helmke said. ''But the only real law on the books is from 1934 that restricts access to machine guns, fully automatic weapons, which came out of the prohibition era with Al Capone and Elliott Ness.''
The next change came in 1968, when a law was passed after the assassinations of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King restricting felons and the mentally ill from carrying guns.
The Brady Bill was passed in 1993 that eliminated the honor system and required background checks for those seeking to buy a gun.
Legislation is pending in Washington that closes a loophole that allows dealers at gun shows to sell guns without background checks.
Helmke cited the man in Dayton who bought 81 semi-automatic guns of the same make and model.
''No one should be surprised that the guns are not for his private collection, protection, or for hunting. He's more likely selling them out of the trunk of his vehicle,'' Helmke said.
Helmke, who is the former mayor of Fort Wayne, Ind., said there are states, like California, that have strong gun laws. The problem is residents just go to a neighboring state to purchase their guns.
He favors strong enforcement of the illegal trafficking of guns.
''Felons get guns by stealing them, without background checks, or from gun dealers who don't follow the rules,'' Helmke said. ''It's a problem we can solve; it's not like a hurricane or tornado.''
Helmke said President Obama's administration has been supportive of his group's calls for reform.
''We need activists. I have 30 employees; the NRA [National Rifle Association] has 600,'' Helmke said.
He said reform has to come from the public.
''This is a public-safety issue and a public-health issue,'' Helmke said. ''Guns don't kill people. People kill people. Guns don't fire by themselves.''
Marilyn Miller can be reached at 330-996-3098 or email@example.com.