Local reaction about gun control
BY MATT VINE
Wyoming County Press Examiner
In the wake of a recent shooting at Sandy Hook Elemetary School in Connecticut, which took the lives of 20 children, local gun shop owners and gun owners alike are having mixed emotions about laws.
Brian Burke, of Burke’s Gun Shop in Laceyville, said that people who are purchasing guns illegally are not seen as bad guys.
“Legal gun owners are receiving more of a bad rap than people who purchase guns illegally,” Burke said.
Burke had gun auctions for 40 years and started up a gun shop in Laceyville a year and a half ago.
Most people who buy guns at his shop are local game hunters, he said.
However, recently, Burke has witnessed women, around the ages of 21-65, purchasing guns for personal protection.
“Women are purchasing pistols with a biometric safe that lets them keep their pistol in a safe place where only way to get a gun is by fingerprint,” Burke said.
Paul Zbegner, 57, a board member and public affairs director of Factoryville Rod and Gun Club, has legally owned guns for 40 plus years.
Zbegner said that gun owners are subjected to follow about 20,000 gun laws throughout the country.
“One more law will not make a difference,” Zbegner said. “This gun issue will not be solved by only one answer. There are multiple steps to take to solve this gun issue in the country.”
Zbegner said he has used guns for hunting and sporting purposes.
For 30 years, he taught children and their parents how to maintain and properly use guns underneath the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s rules and regulations.
“People are not looking at the recent shootings for results, but as a tool that was used to create the situation in the first place,” Zbegner said.
Marta Kovacs-Ruiz, Tunkhannock, has not owned a gun since moving to the United States 53 years ago.
Before the move, Kovacs-Ruiz lived in her native Hungary.
During Hungary’s revolution from Russia in 1956, she helped the Hungarian Army polish guns for a war.
“You don’t have to own a gun to start a revolution,” Kovacs-Ruiz said.
In wake of recent shootings, she felt very upset at the way our government has no control over guns.
Kovacs-Ruiz said that the United States needs to re-interpret the second amendment to the constitution.
“We live in the most developed country in the world,” Kovacs-Ruiz said. “But the way we enforce the rules is primitive.”
Mallia Evans, one of the owners of Brady and Cavany Sporting Goods shop Tunkhannock, said that to own a gun legally in the state of Pennsylvania, people must show a valid driver’s license.
Evans had been in the business of purchasing and selling guns for more than 31 years.
According to Evans, the store sells hunting rifles to revolvers.
“We never sold any semi-automatic guns and assault rifles,” Evans said. “We were never interested in them before.”
When Evans heard about the shootings in Newtown, Conn., the news was upsetting, she admits.
“It’s heartbreaking to hear about what happened,” Evans said. “This is what our society allows today.”
Richard Fitzsimmons, a retired librarian from Penn State’s Worthington Scranton campus, said that he saw no reason for people to have automatic high-powered, magazine-fed assault rifles.
“They are excessive and “over-the-top,” Fitzsimmons said. “These types of weapons should be used for military and police protection.”
Fitzsimmons only has a 12-gauge and a 16-gauge shotgun for small game shooting.
“I do not own any rifles or own any hand guns or pistols,” Fitzsimmons said. “So I have no need for concealed weapons permits.”
But Fitzsimmons has an opinion on the subject.
“I can’t say that a ban on possession of automatic or semi-automatic assault-type weapons would quickly solve the issue, but it surely would give citizens time to pause and reflect, to debate, and to thoughtfully address a critical social issue in American society,” he said.
The former Wyoming County commissioner added that “Government leaders at all levels have to hear opinions from all the people in this democracy, and then act in the best interests of the majority.”
He asked, “Did the weapons which killed innocents in Columbine, Portland, Aurora, Oklahoma City, Newtown, as well as countless other places in the U.S., fire by themselves, or even by remote control?”
“Absolutely not,” he said, noting that he expected “an evolving dialog and legal structure resulting in laws.”
“We probably won’t get it “right” on the first, or second attempts,” he said, “but with time, experience, and growth–overtime, we will achieve desired results, without adversely affecting the right to bear arms, in a sensible and reasonable way.”