As the gun control debate rages on amongst policymakers in Washington, the nation's citizens appear to have taken their own public, albeit individual, stances on the issue, opening discussion and debate amongst themselves and in the world of social media.
Those in charge of an online movement titled "Gun Appreciation Day" are hoping that those against more gun control measures will show their support for the second amendment this Saturday, Jan. 19. In a press release on Jan. 7, "Gun Appreciation Day" is described as a day for those to turn out "en masse at gun stores, ranges, and shows from coast to coast."
The movement is described as including the following coalition members: Second Amendment Foundation, Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, Special Operations Speaks, Revolution PAC, Citizens and Country, Social Security Institute, Committee to Draft Judge Andrew Napolitano, Conservative Action Alerts, Women Warriors PAC, Conservative Action Fund, and Political Media, Inc.
When asked if he would give up his guns if new gun control laws stipulating such are passed, Bill Talkington of Talkington’s Gun Shop had the following answer: “Over my dead body...Out of my cold, dead fingers will my guns leave me. That’s the only way.” (Photo by Lauren Riggs)
"Go out to your local gun store, gun shop, local gun store. . . buy a few bullets," stated GAD Chairman Larry Ward in an interview by phone with the Wetzel Chronicle this past Friday. "Make a statement and remind politicians about your Second Amendment." When asked how he felt about President Obama possibly using executive privilege to pass more gun control laws, Ward stated, "I think that would be greatly foolish to do that. You can't legislate with an executive order. If (Obama) tries to circumvent Congress, there will be very strong pushback from the American people."
Ward, who describes himself as a Constitutionalist with a background in advertising and marketing, had the following final advice: "We'd like for the people to come out and spend the day and make a strong, peaceful, and loud protest."
As for his opinion on possible new gun control laws, Congressman David B. McKinley said in a statement to the Chronicle, "There are no easy solutions to gun violence; and we should not respond rashly or try to politicize the tragedy in Connecticut." The Congressman continued, "Limiting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens will not change the behavior of those determined to use firearms to commit horrific crimes. The tragic shooting is a reminder to all responsible gun owners to properly secure their weapons at home. Part of the solution also includes enforcing and reviewing existing laws, changing how government and society should deal with mental illness, and addressing violence in popular culture. The issue will be perplexing us for some time."
The Associated Press reported Tuesday afternoon that President Barack Obama is expected to reveal his proposals on gun regulations as early as today, some of those steps possibly being ways that can be enacted without legislative approval.
"The president said he would unveil a comprehensive roadmap for curbing gun violence within days," reported the AP. "This plan will be based on recommendations from Vice President Joe Biden's gun task force and is expected to include both legislative proposals and steps Obama can implement by himself, using his presidential powers."
On the local level, the position against any more gun control appears to be overwhelming. Local gun shop owner Bill Talkington adamantly opposes new gun control laws, stating "(Nationwide), we've got 22,000 gun laws now, and hardly any of them are even enforced. It's already illegal to own fully automatic handguns or rifles. We don't need any more legislation. We've got plenty."
When asked if he would give up his guns if new gun control laws stipulating such are passed, Talkington responded, "Over my dead body. . . Out of my cold, dead fingers will my guns leave me. That's the only way."
Furthermore, Talkington warns, "If you don't know what happens (with gun control), read about Hitler. In 1936, Hitler took all the guns from the Jewish people. The ones that wouldn't give them up, (the Nazis) just shot them, they executed them." Talkington adds, "That was (Hitler's) form of gun control, and it was successful."
Talkington continues, "There's going to be a revolution if things don't change. People are getting ready for it. They are buying everything and anything." Would stiff gun control laws get rid of guns?" Talkington gives an example: "What happened when they outlawed whiskey? There's more of it." He adds, "It's the politicians we've got. If they had a brain in their head, and most of them don't, they would know that outlawing guns from the good citizens of this country will not work." He cites a quote he's heard before, "When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have them."
"That's just my opinion," Talkington states. ". . . People have always killed people. They always will."
Surprising to some, might be the fact that what Talkington describes as "a good investment," might go unused by many buyers. "I sell hundreds of guns to people who don't even shoot them, who don't even fire a shot," he says. Talkington also mentions the fact that for approximately 41 years he taught around 3,986 people in hunter safety courses. "Not one has ever been involved in a firearms accident," he states.
Local resident Mike Rokles teaches both concealed carry courses as well as hunter safety courses. He explains that he is certified for teaching in four states and has been teaching hunter safety for over 20 years. Currently, he teaches several classes a year in Ohio and West Virginia.
In a phone-interview with the Wetzel Chronicle, Rokles states that he believes response of more gun-control is a knee-jerk reaction to the tragedy that occurred in Newtown, Conn. Of the mass shooting at the elementary school, he states, "It just saddens me, that our society shows so little respect for human life. It just breaks my heart. . . I'm a parent."
He continues, "The thing is, during my lifetime, when I was a kid in school, you never heard of a mass murder." Rokles adds, "In the 40s and 50s, there was no gun-control to speak of. Now we have all kinds in areas such as Chicago, Washington, D.C. But that never stopped gun-violence." Rockles states that he has no problem with every gun being sold having a background check. He thinks this could help a little bit. As for being outlawed, Rockles points to drugs, stating, "Heroin and cocaine. . .it's illegal, and people still have it. . .If you just look at drugs. They're illegal, but they're everywhere."
He continues, "I think it's a big cultural difference. Kids today have no morals. I don't feel more control is the issue."
Rokles elaborates on the various cultural issues today: "Today's society, both parents work, and you know we have that term, latchkey kids, where kids come home and have too much time by themselves. . .It's just a combination of things. . ."
When asked if he believes that video games can play a contributing factor to today's violence, Rokles responds that in video games, "The person that gets the most kills gets the most notoriety. . .There's a correlation there in my eyes." Rokles states that despite this correlation, not every kid that plays these kind of video games "is going to kill a bunch of people."
He adds that he also believes violence "has to do too with mental health issues, bullying. . .abused kids, depressed kids. . .There's not one magic answer, and I don't think gun control is the one magic answer."
One thing that is apparent is that Rockles' own children have the right combination of both fear and respect for a gun. When asked if his children hunt, Rockles states, "My youngest daughter and I are best hunting buddies." At the same time though, Rockles can describe a conversation he had with his eldest daughter, who recently stated that she knew when growing up, that she was "dead meat" if she touched a gun.
Rokles also partially blames the media for "sensationalizing these big mass murders." He explains, "I think the person that commits this murder, his name, should not be mentioned. Don't sensationalize his name. Don't mention his name."
Rokles also explains another aspect of the gun control debate that he has an issue with. "I have an issue with people, like Piers Morgan, talking about (gun control), that has absolutely no understanding of firearms. . .(Morgan) described a gun that fires 60 rounds in a second. That is a machine gun. How many American people have machine guns?" Rokles adds, "There's a difference, and if you are going to take about guns, you need to know what you are talking about."
The question of gun control was posed online to the Wetzel Chronicle's readers. The following question was posted both on our Facebook Page as well as on our site's message boards: What stance do you take in the gun control debate? Would new gun-control laws effect you?"
Message board user "Goodfellow" stated the following: "The government may be struggling about gun control, but wait until they track how much ammunition you can buy in a certain time period." Goodfellow continued, "Our mental health system is not adequate. Also, parents may not be monitoring their kids as well as they should, including their medical needs, including medical concerns. Finally, I fear that we are raising a generation of sociopaths/psychopaths that have NO idea of consequences created by their choices, or do not care about their consequences. Ironically, the most connected generation in history is seriously disconnected when it comes to person-to-person relationships."
"Gerald" had the following take on the issue: "Guns are certainly a factor in this debate because they are so easily available. However, I think a far more important factor is the way our culture has developed in the last several decades. Human life has lost value and is regarded as basically disposable when justified. The media, movies, tv, video games, etc., and probably the most to blame wars, have created a culture that portrays killing as an acceptable behavior. It only has to be rationalized. Our government rationalizes war as a means to protect us from some, largely, exaggerated evil. The government hegemony vilifies and demonizes our so called enemy so that killing vermin, i.e., human beings is acceptable. Collateral damage then becomes nothing more than a necessary evil. We know how many innocent children were killed in Newtown, but do we know how many have been killed in Iraq? Does it even matter? When the media and the government quit killing people, so will its citizens."
"Still the best gun controls is 'Grip tightly with both hands.' As far as our children, it's not video games, tv or movies. It's parents or the lack of. If people who reproduce would also work at being involved parents a lot of these tragedies in the recent time wouldn't have happened. Don't blame guns, blame the criminals. New 'gun control laws' will only work to further burden the law abiding tax payers that support this country now. How about some new 'entitlement reform?' Help those who are willing to help themselves," added "ImJustSayin."
On the Chronicle Facebook page, Guy Wetzel had the following to say: "The Obama administration wants to put a control on guns. My personal stance is simple. If he wants us to give up our right to defend ourselves, then he can give up his secret service toting around the standard sidearm glock gen 4's, correct? You don't feel safe with us having guns, fine. I don't feel safe about my president surrounded by guns 24/7."
Brenda Dorsey gave the following feedback: "Laws cannot be written to account for people's lack of common sense or morality. I fear the real goal of gun control is citizen control-it will not affect lawless criminals who would ignore it anyway.
Donna Cecil has similar views: "I don't think changing the law will have any effect on someone who doesn't abide by the law to begin with. . . if a person has it in their mind to harm someone, they will find a way to do it regardless. I personally don't think the ordinary person needs a gun that will hold 20 or 30 bullets, those types of weapons should be for the military and police. Maybe the only answer to stopping crime is for all law abiding citizens to get a permit and carry a gun. . . nothing else seems to work, maybe that would put a stop to a lot of crime. If nothing else, by having a gun you would at least have a chance to protect yourself and anyone else if need be."
The Wetzel County Prosecuting Attorney's Office released a statement Tuesday evening saying it defends the right of law abiding citizens to keep and bear arms as guaranteed by Constitution. They also support the right of individuals to use reasonable force to defend themselves and others, supports the Castle Doctrine, and tougher penalties for those who steal firearms or use them in the commission of any crime.
"Laws should punish criminals, not law abiding citizens," said Prosecutor Timothy Haught. "Laws should prevent criminals from possessing firearms, not law abiding citizens."
Ed Mellott, preacher at the Church of Christ in Steelton, had the final opinion for this feature: "I'm not in favor of them adding new laws," he stated. "I don't personally think that will protect us at all. I think the law-abiding citizens will be affected by that. I don't believe that will affect the criminal population any."
Mellott did mention, however, that he was in favor of adding guards at the schools. "It'll provide jobs," he stated. "It'll provide more security for the children."
Mellott was asked that, as a pastor, what did he believe was causing the increase in violence in society? He responded, "My view is, is that our society is becoming more and more atheistic. We've taken God out of schools and just about everything. It's almost as if freedom of speech applies to those of those opposed to Christianity. . . Children are taught that there's no God, that they have evolved from an animal. Then people are surprised when they act like animals."
He continued, "When I was a kid, they whipped us in school. My daughter said that's terrible, but I said, 'When we had whippings in school, we didn't have shootings in schools.'"
(Editor's note: No comments on our Facebook or Message Board were in favor of more gun regulations.)