This was on the front page of today's Sunday paper. What do you think? Are our gun rights in danger?
Gun sector fears tighter federal controls
Donald Heath | Sunday, January 4, 2009 at 12:30 am
Hunters expect some waiting.
Like when they're perched in a tree stand, waiting for prey.
They will encounter another type of anxiety during the next few weeks. On Jan. 20, Barack Obama will be sworn in as the nation's 44th president.
For most American citizens, the inauguration is a mere formality.
For gun enthusiasts, Obama's move to the White House is more cause for concern than a daylight holdup. They say that few politicians have advocated tighter gun control during their tenure in the public eye than Obama.
"The big thing is: People really don't know what he's going to do," said Kayton Smith, president of The Gun Shop Inc. on Eisenhower Drive. "We, in the gun business, say gun control is about one thing - total control.
"If you think about it and read the Constitution, when our forefathers left England and left a tyrant, the first thing they put in the Bill of Rights is you can say whatever you want to say. The next thing, out of all the things they could have put in, was the right to bear arms."
Smith's fascination with guns began more than three decades ago. He joined the Benedictine Rifle Club and learned he was a natural dead-eye despite having limited opportunities to shoot at home.
Two years ago, he placed 24th in the nation at the 2006 International Benchrest Shooters Tournament in Dublin.
Smith worked at the Gun Shop for 28 years before taking over as president in 2006.
He said he has never witnessed a potential political scenario like the one that appears to be unfolding.
Smith sees little reason anyone should be concerned about shooters who own guns for protection, target shooting and hunting.
He also advocates the right to own assault weapons.
"Some people would say, 'What do you need that for?' " he said. "Well, it's not a matter of need. It's not a matter of want. If you want to go that route, why do you need a motor vehicle with speedometer that's over 70 mph when the speed limit is 70 mph?
"My better question would be: As long as I'm not hurting you, what difference does it make?"
Farewell to arms?
"I understand if people don't want guns, they have that right," said Lynn Parker, a deer hunter from Pembroke. "But they shouldn't take away our rights.
"I understand the concept (of gun control). It (supposedly) takes guns out of the hands of crooks, thieves and murderers. But I don't think it will."
Parker, just like Smith, asks the hypothetical question: "What would the founders of our country have said if they didn't have the right to bear arms?"
A Web site for the National Rifle Association and the Institute for Legislative Action lists 24 instances (supported by footnotes) when, as a U.S. senator from Illinois, Obama backed measures that those organizations believe to be contrary to Second Amendment liberties.
Democratic majorities in both the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate could only help Obama's agenda, they say.
According to the NRA-ILA Web site, Obama has voted to:
-- Ban and confiscate assault weapons.
-- Ban almost all rifle ammunition commonly used for hunting and sport shooting.
-- Uphold the criminal prosecution of people who use firearms in self-defense.
-- Ban gun stores within five miles of a school or park.
The NRA-ILA Web site claims Obama was a member of the board of directors of the Joyce Foundation, which is the leading source of funds for anti-gun organization and research.
"When you hear (Obama's) speeches that (he) believes in the right for people to bear arms with reasonable restrictions - well, time out, people," Smith said. "His idea of reasonable restrictions and my idea of reasonable restrictions are not the same.
"Show me anywhere where they've taken away guns and crime has gone down. You can't. People are scared he's going to give some executive orders."
Russell Keep, in charge at Dos Lupes Rifle Range in Ridgeland, S.C., isn't quite as fearful.
Certainly, finding solutions for the war in Iraq and the economic crisis in this country will supersede any gun-control issue for the incoming president.
"I just think (Obama) has an awful lot on his plate right now," Keep said.