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Corning not divided on gun rights
The Second Amendment of the US Constitution guarantees citizens' right to bear arms.
But in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., elementary school shooting, gun control has become a hot topic of debate and the support for stricter gun laws is on the rise is some parts of the country.
Not so much in Corning.
Bill Skousen of Gerber said he believes certain politicians are using the deaths of 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary for political purposes and to advance the anti-gun agenda.
Tehama County Sheriff Dave Hencratt believes there are enough gun control laws already on the books and more laws aren't going to prevent what happened in Connecticut from happening some place else.
"There are evil people in our society who are going to do evil things and no amount of laws are going to stop them," he said. "It's not the law-abiding people who own guns that are committing these crimes, like hunters, sportsmen and gun collectors. No law is going to stop a bad person from doing bad things."
Hencratt believes it is the way society has evolved to the extent people are going "into our schools and killing people."
"Is that something you ever dreamed would happen when you were a kid. I never thought about something like that as a kid. Now it is something our children face and with dozens of gun laws on the books. That shows that they really don't make a difference."
Tom Knorr, a National Rifle Association Certified Instructor and owner of Firearm Training and Security Consulting in Tehama County, said he believes the mother of Adam Lanza, the man who reportedly pulled the trigger at Sandy Hook, did something tragically wrong when she allowed her mentally disturbed son access to firearms.
"When you have a child with mental issues, you lock the guns away instead of training that child how to use them," Knorr said. "She should have kept the guns away from him."
In March, a draft international treaty to regulate the $70 billion global arms trade will be negotiated in the United Nations, and President Barack Obama has indicated he will pursue strengthening domestic gun control laws.
California has some of the toughest gun control laws in the nation, and those laws tightened on Tuesday when a ban on carrying long guns in the open went into effect.
Sue Gallagher, former chairwoman of the Democrats of Tehama County, said it is the National Rifle Association and businesses or organizations that promote or sell guns and ammunition for profit that are at fault of the Newton, Conn., massacre.
"I heard that Walmart is the largest seller of guns and ammunition in the nation. Just think of the huge profits that company makes and the number of the wrong people it allows to own guns," she said.
National Rifle Association, the country's front-runner in gun rights advocacy, opposes the movement to produce stricter gun controls and has vowed to fight any legislation that would hamper or stymie the constitutional right to bear arms.
In response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School atrocity, the association's Executive Vice President Wayne LePierre asked in a press conference, "How do we protect our children right now, starting today, in a way that we know works?"
Answering his own question he said, "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."
Gallagher said it is the "ordinary people of this country who need to fight against the NRA and its ideology.
"We need to call our politicians who represent us and tell them to stop the NRA. That organization has a ton of blood on their hands," Gallagher said.
US CongressmanDoug LaMalfa, R-Richvale, said he doesn't believe it isn't the federal government that should be imposing anymore gun control laws.
"Instead of going after the Second Amendment, guns and the NRA, this country needs focus on the what the real problem is and that is the dismantling of the prison system and disfunctionality of the court system which is letting the bad guys loose on the street," LaMalfa said. "Do you really believe whether or not there are more gun control laws legislated the incident at Sandy Hook will be the last of its kind."
He said those in favor of placing more and more gun control legislation on law abiding citizens are using the Newtown tragedy as a political end-road to erode the Second Amendment.
"Taking a law abiding citizen's ability to defend themselves plays right into the hands of the criminals out there," LaMalfa said.
Hencratt believes enough is enough as far as the gun laws go.
There are laws on the books to stop felons from possessing firearms and yet they still do. If a person wants to do something wrong they are going to do so no matter what laws are in place," he said.
Democrat Charles Rouse, former candidate for 3rd Assembly District, said he owns guns.
"I believe it the issue isn't about sporting and hunting guns, but about assault rifles. There is not place in our society for assault weapons except in the military and police departments," he stated.
Gallagher lauds Ralph's supermarkets for handing out food in exchange for people turning in their guns.
"There is someone standing up for their values. More people, companies and businesses need to do the same thing," she said.
Tony Paulson at McCoy's Ace Hardware in Corning, said there had been a significant increase in gun and ammunition sales in the store's gun department over the past two months.
"But, that in-part could be due to the holidays. We sell a lot of guns as gifts during Christmas," he stated.
On Dec. 21 a Corning High School student told a member of the school staff another student was rumored to be coming to campus with a gun.
The school's administration and on-campus police officer immediately took action and placed the school on lock-down.
Within an hour the lock-down was lifted when all was found to be safe.
Corning Union High School District Superintendent John Burch said he feels having an on-campus officer who is trained, armed and has instant communication with the police department is an invaluable benefit to the school.
"This adds a sense of security to our school," he said.
LaMalfa feels the act to, or to not, have a responsible, trained armed person on school campuses for protection should not be decided on the federal or state level, but locally by each school district.
"Across this nation school campuses are different everywhere. What is right for one campus may not be the right thing for another campus. That is why the decision should stay out of Washington, D.C." he commented.
According to Knorr, when a "gun free zone" is created it becomes a "safe place for the bad guys."
"A lot of people don't know much about guns except what they see on television and at the movies, which is all wrong. I believe schools should allow trained, certified and permitted teachers to carry guns on campus. If a teacher had had a gun at Sandy Hook that man would have been stopped in a second," he said.