Talkin' Outdoors

(Second in a two-part series on gun ownership)

The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the right to bear arms, is a right enjoyed by U.S. citizens since its inception. However, recent mass shootings around the country have caused increased attention to fall on gun ownership and efforts escalated to ban certain firearms by the anti-gun element in Congress.

Last week, we began a two-part series on this sensitive topic interviewing members of the community who deal with firearms, their sale and proper use. Following is part two of this series.

Jodie Backus, owner of Backus Tru-Value in Ruston, is a firearms dealer. He believes Second Amendment rights are in jeopardy and sees the threat as a back door proposition.

“It’s sort of a ‘whittling’ process. Anti-gun advocates in Congress are attempting to gradually limit our ownership of firearms. They’re targeting magazines that hold 20 rounds; if they get that passed, look for them to try and reduce that next year. They’re trying to make rifles with thumb hole and pistol grip stocks look like assault weapons. It’s like they’re throwing things out to see what sticks and next year, they’ll try for more,” said Backus.

Does Backus view the “black” rifle as an assault weapon?

“No I don’t; if you’re bent on using a firearm in an assault situation, this type of weapon is not the easiest to use. A handgun would work much more efficiently for an assault. I think because this particular firearm can be ominous looking is the reason it’s being singled out. They’re targeting anything with features such as a pistol grip or a thumb hole,” Backus added.

Mike Rainwater is a deputy sheriff for Lincoln Parish and a long-time hunter education instructor. While concerned about Second Amendment rights threats, he believes in reasonable background checks.

“I’m all for a screening process to weed out those people who don’t need to own even a BB gun, much less a firearm. Background checks, however, should not be so stringent to screen out the average law-abiding gun owner.

“Outlawing particular types of firearms is not the issue; that’s not going to solve anything. A gun is nothing but a tool. As we teach in hunter education, a gun to a hunter, shooter or someone owning a gun for protecting his home is what a hammer is to a carpenter; it’s only a tool,”  Rainwater said.

Lincoln Parish Sheriff Mike Stone says that with the rhetoric being out there today on the issue of guns, it can become confusing.

“There are so many things being thrown out there today that we have to be sensitive and to think rationally. Personally,” said Stone, “I believe our Second Amendment rights are in jeopardy.”

That being said, Stone has no problem with reasonable background checks for gun ownership.

“Even though I support background checks to keep guns out of the hands of those who have no business with them, I don’t know how effective they really are because you can buy a gun from a neighbor and there are some independent dealers who aren’t licensed. The main issue in my mind” said Stone, “is not the gun; it’s the heart and spiritual condition of the person holding the gun.

“I can never see the scenario where I’d direct my deputies to go out and confiscate firearms; I really don’t think it will come to that.”