Local News

Monday, Dec 17 2012 05:50 PM

Local gun owners say more restrictions not the answer

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    By Alex Horvath / The Californian

    Customer Antonio Reyes and his two-year-old Joaquin shop at Second Amendment Sports on Monday afternoon.

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    By Alex Horvath / The Californian

    Kori Miller shoots her 9 mm Glock during target practice at Second Amendment Sports on Monday morning. Kori came with her friend Kristi Jones.

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    By Alex Horvath / The Californian

    Kristi Jones shoots her 9 mm Glock during target practice at Second Amendment Sports on Monday morning. Kristi came with her friend Kori Miller.

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    By Alex Horvath / The Californian

    Customers Kristi Jones and her friend Kori Miller talk with a reporter about gun control at Second Amendment Sports on Monday morning. Kristi came with her friend Kori Miller for target practice.

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BY JASON KOTOWSKI Californian staff writer jkotowski@bakersfield.com

Friday's massacre of schoolchildren and staff by a lone gunman has reignited the debate over gun control, including in Kern County.

Authorities say 20-year-old Adam Lanza used a .223-caliber Bushmaster semiautomatic rifle to gun down his mother, 20 children and six staff members at a Connecticut elementary school, The Associated Press has reported. Numerous stories have focused on reports that Lanza was withdrawn and awkward around others, and is believed to have suffered from a personality disorder.

The guns Lanza used were legally owned by his mother, according to reports.

Some local residents and gun owners Monday said the focus needs to be on how people like Lanza can be identified and treated before another horrible event like the Newtown, Conn., school shooting occurs.

Keith Foster, general manager of Second Amendment Sports off Rosedale Highway, said laws are already pretty strict when it comes to gun ownership. Placing more restrictions won't keep guns out of the hands of people who will use them to harm others.

Foster used a drug analogy in making his point. Drugs are illegal, yet somehow people are able to get their hands on them and deal them, even in prison.

Instead of chipping away at a citizen's right to bear arms, the government should focus on funding to train teachers and administrators in the proper use of guns and allow them to be armed so they can protect their students, Foster said.

He said a ban of assault rifles -- a hot topic following Friday's killings -- is not the answer. Both pro-gun and anti-gun sides need to take a deeper consideration of the issue and not make a knee jerk reaction, he said.

"People are working off emotion right now on both sides," Foster said.

Kristi Jones spent part of Monday morning firing rounds from her Glock 9mm at Second Amendment's shooting range. A wife and mother, Jones said she and her husband own several guns and keep them securely locked up in addition to educating their children as to why they have them.

Jones is against any sort of assault rifle restrictions. She said she doesn't care what size the gun is, she's going to do "whatever it takes to protect my family," whether that means putting one hole or 20 in a bad guy.

Kori Miller, who also fired rounds at the range, said there needs to be better education and treatment for the mentally ill. She said California's gun laws are already more stringent than many other states, and further restrictions won't help.

Another customer, Antonio Reyes, said there's no easy answer on how to prevent further mass shootings. Responsibility on the part of gun owners by making sure their weapons are safely locked away would help, he said.

Rob Armstrong, another Second Amendment employee, said he learned how to shoot at a young age and has been a gun owner throughout his life. He hunted earlier in life, but in recent years tactical shooting has been his focus.

Friday's shooting will end up being politicized and may result in some people trying to infringe on the rights of others, he said. But he said the real answer is to be able to better read people and their intentions in order to stop them.

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