Monday, December 24, 2012

Newtown's Big Tradition of Gun Rights

I wondered --- and others may have as well --- but what got into Nancy Lanza that she became such an unabashed lover of firearms? Perhaps one factor is the deep cultural tradition of gun ownership in Connecticut. The Los Angeles Times reports on the region's huge local defense of Second Amendment rights. See, "Newtown's firearms tradition clashes with gun-control push":
NEWTOWN, Conn. — When the wind blows a certain way across the tree-topped hills, Gary Bennett can stand in his yard and hear echoes of gunfire from his hunting club five miles away. The sound comforts him.

"It's a huge tradition here," said Bennett, a retired electrician and former president of the club, which helped defeat a proposal to tighten Newtown's gun ordinances in September. "I'd rather see more gun clubs come to town, training people with the use of firearms so that everyone's doing it safely."

Anguished families are still burying the 20 children and six women who were shot to death by a lone gunman last Friday just after the morning Pledge of Allegiance at Sandy Hook Elementary School. But a surprising local undercurrent has emerged: Many gun owners here say the slaughter has sharpened their view that guns alone aren't the problem.

"I wish that at that school somebody was armed," said Kuthair Habboush, a software engineer who keeps a weapon at home for protection. "If a security guard or a teacher or a principal had been armed, somebody could have taken the [killer] out" before his lethal rampage.

Firearms are deep in the culture of this corner of New England. Two of America's most storied weapons manufacturers, Colt and Winchester, were based in Connecticut. Some historians say the West was won in Hartford — the state capital and birthplace of the Colt revolvers favored by lawmen and outlaws alike beginning in the 1830s.

Today, dozens of gun dealers, gun instructors, gun repair shops and shooting ranges do a brisk business in Newtown and nearby cities and towns. Private hunting clubs are widespread, many with waiting lists for membership.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation, a powerful lobbying group for gun retailers, has its headquarters across the highway from Sandy Hook Elementary School.

"You'd be surprised," said Sean Eldridge, owner of Parker Gunsmithing, a gun repair shop in nearby Danbury, referring to his customers. "They're regular people and they have an arsenal in their basement."

That was the case with Nancy Lanza, a wealthy divorced mother who enjoyed jazz, craft beer and frequent visits to shooting ranges. She kept at least five weapons, all legally registered to her, in the large Colonial-style house she shared with her 20-year-old son, Adam.
Continue reading.

Actually, the Times' report was out last week, so it's not true that Newtown's still burying its dead. See the New York Times, "Newtown Mourns Last of Its Children Killed in Massacre."