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Passions run high over gun control

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Lawrenceburg residents’ views vary on hot-button issue

By BEN CARLSON

The nation is divided over the hotly contested issue of gun control, and Anderson County is no exception.
As Americans hold their breath while waiting for the president to reveal his promised measures on gun control later this week, residents here aren’t shy on sharing their views, including one woman who vows no one will take away her firearms.
“My [late] husband is a Marine who fought for five years in Vietnam and I’ll be damned if I’ll let [the Obama administration] take away my guns,” said Lawrenceburg resident Sandra Leeds. “If people give up their guns they can bend over and kiss their freedoms goodbye.
“During the past election this country became a socialist nation, and if I have to go out fighting, so be it.”
Other Anderson Countians have opposing views, particularly when it comes to what is seemingly the crux of the firearms debate: military-styled rifles, labeled by some as “assault weapons,” large capacity ammunition magazines and more stringent background checks.
“I don’t have a problem with people owning guns,” said Lawrenceburg resident Cindy Rohatch. “My problem is people owning assault weapons. They are for the sole purpose of killing a lot of people very quickly and I don’t think they should be sold to citizens.”
What isn’t debatable is the speed with which guns of all makes and models are being purchased, along with ammunition and high-capacity magazines.
Kenny Barnett Jr. is a federally licensed firearms dealer in Anderson County who teaches classes that allow residents to carry concealed firearms. He said the price of nearly everything related to guns and ammunition has soared since the debate began shortly after dozens of children and adults were murdered at an elementary school in Connecticut.
“AR-15-styled weapons that used to sell for $650 are now up to $1,300 to $1,400,” Barnett said. “It’s the same for anything with a high-capacity magazine. Anything that holds more than 10 rounds is almost impossible to get, even for dealers.
“A magazine that would normally sell for $13 is now selling for $60 or $70.”
Barnett said people aren’t only stocking up on firearms.
“Ammo is the same way. The .223 and .556 rounds for ARs … people used to buy two or three boxes, now they’re buying it by the case,” Barnett said. “It has even extended down to .22. People are scared and they’re stocking up.”
Lawrenceburg resident Phil Quire said he is among those looking to stockpile ammunition, but is having little success in doing so. He said he recently traveled to Florida and found ammunition particularly hard to find.
“I stopped at every store that we could stop at and I couldn’t find ammo for hardly anything,” he said. “I couldn’t find anything for my .45, my 9mm or .223 AR. I couldn’t even find .270 Winchester rounds for hunting.”
That, he said, not confiscation, is his primary concern.
“I’m worried about the ability to buy ammo,” he said. “This is a constitutional issue. The way they do the laws they give criminals protection, not law-abiding citizens. I have the full right and privilege to carry and bear arms to protect my family, no matter what.”
Lawrenceburg resident Dennis Schraub said there’s more to the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution than gun advocates like to quote and is he is in full favor of some restrictions.
“The gun manufacturers are getting rich off this perceived idea fostered by the NRA and the right wing media that someone is going to come and take your guns away,” he said. “Any rational person would realize this isn’t going to happen, nor is there any legislation to do so presently, nor in the future.
“This same pattern occurred after the president’s first term election. No one took away your guns then, and they aren’t going to do it now.”
Lawrenceburg resident Michael Warfield said he disagrees.
“It really frustrates me what the government is trying to do,” said Warfield, an avid hunter and shooter who just recently obtained his conceal carry permit. “I don’t think stricter laws will change anything. There are more people killed by knives than firearms.”
As for those firearms, Warfield said owning them is his right.
“That’s in the Constitution,” he said.
 “That’s mine, and that’s why I live in America.”
Schraub said he favors a ban on high-capacity magazines along with more stringent oversight on owning firearms.
“Why would anyone object to making high-capacity magazines illegal? If you need 30 plus bullets to bring down a deer, maybe you should take up another activity,” he said, adding that no one objects to having to obtain a driver’s license to operate a vehicle.
“You are moving several tons of metal down a road at high speed and yet you object to the same type of restrictions on a gun owner, whose device (a gun) has only one purpose, and that is to kill, excluding target shooting, of course.”
Leeds said her main reason for owning firearms is protection.
“I want to protect myself and if someone comes to the door to harm me, they need to know that I don’t shoot to wound, I shoot to kill.”

Conceal carry demand up, too
Kenny Barnett Jr., a federally licensed firearms dealer and conceal carry permit instructor, says the demand for those permits has skyrocketed during the past month.
Barnett said he has offered monthly classes for the past several years, usually with five to seven students signing up.
Since the debate over gun control began, though, he said demand has increased.
“I had a class during the first part of January with 11 people, and already have enough interest for a second class in January,” he said.
The classes, which are required to legally conceal a firearm in Kentucky, range between six and eight hours and include classroom training, videos, safety and how to handle and clean firearms.
The classes cost $75, and a $60 fee is required to actually purchase the permit, which is good for five years.
Barnett is one of several instructors who offers the class in Anderson County, and can be reached at 502-680-6888.