Talkin' Outdoors

(Part 1 of a two-part series on gun rights)

When I was a little bitty guy, I found a special gift from Santa under our tree, a pair of pistols with matching holsters and a belt. My brother and I spent the better part of Christmas day sneaking around the yard, taking out bad guys, until the roll of red paper caps ran out.

I graduated to a BB gun but the Red Ryder began gathering dust in the corner the day my dad bought me a second-hand Winchester 22 single shot rifle. I joined the ranks of some of the other six year old boys in our town who also had their first squirrel guns.

That was a long time ago and things have changed drastically in the area of gun ownership since my cap pistol-packing days. Today in the eyes of some, that cap pistol is a big no-no. Last week’s news carried a story of a first grader being suspended when he fashioned his breakfast pastry into the shape of a pistol. Have we gone completely crazy?

Today, we’re hearing as much or more about threats to our Second Amendment than we are about sequester. In fact, a member of Congress recently told a friend he’s getting hundreds of times more calls about gun rights than about our economy going into the toilet.

With Second Amendment rights being such a hot button topic, I visited with some local citizens to get their take on this matter which has many in our part of the country “up in arms”.

Joe Mitcham of Ruston peach fame, is also a licensed firearms dealer who has seen his business affected by proposed legislation that are a threat to gun ownership.

“One of the things that has been immediately evident is the difficulty or impossibility of finding certain firearms and ammunition. You can hardly find any handguns or the so-called “black rifle” available. Ammunition? You can just about forget it; finding a box of .22 long rifle cartridges, as well as .223, .308, 30 caliber and most handgun ammo, such as 9mm, 45 or even 38 special is just about impossible,” Mitcham said.

One particular firearm, the “black rifle” has been one of the 157 firearms banned in a bill introduced in Congress by Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA).
According to an article I found on-line in the Orange Country Register, information about these firearms is misunderstood by the majority of Americans.

“Two-thirds of Americans think an assault weapon fires faster than other guns, holds more rounds and uses higher-caliber ammunition. Yet the firearms Feinstein wants to ban are not distinguished by any of these characteristics,” according to the article.

“Although I don’t personally use this type firearm,” Mitcham added, “Remington and other firearms companies have made versions of the gun that are fantastic predator rifles and even for deer hunting. People who enjoy hunting or sport shooting with this type of rifle, I support their rights to have access to it. Just because I don’t have one doesn’t mean it’s wrong”.
Richie McKinney, owner of McKinney Honda and Outdoor Super Store has seen gun sales escalate proportionate with the rhetoric of anti-gun law-makers.

“All you have to do is turn on the news and that’s the topic of conversation and because of this, there has been a tremendous increase in demands for firearms and ammo. As a result, demand exceeds supply and there’s a shortage of these products. There are those in the anti-gun camp who don’t understand why we would be offended to lose these rights because they don’t believe we need them in the first place,” said McKinney.

“I believe we should continue to let our representatives know how we feel about gun rights and support conservation organizations that promote hunting and responsible gun ownership.”

Next week, we’ll visit with more concerned dealers and officials to get their take on this hot-button issue.