Advocates: Guns are good :A look at the pro-gun view in Utah


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WAGCEVP
December 1, 2003, 09:33 PM
http://www.wsusignpost.com/vnews/display.v/ART/2003/11/26/3fc41292bd7ff?in_archive=1

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Advocates: Guns are good :A look at the pro-gun view in Utah

Claudia Hepner with Women Against Gun Control shows off a holster for women that is meant to be worn on the thigh, underneath a dress.
By Colleen Coleman | features editor
November 26, 2003


Anti-gun messages fill television and movie screens. Celebrities like Rosie O'Donnell and Susan Sarandon urge people to get rid of guns. Rarely are pro-gun activists given the opportunity to express their points of view without sounding like zealots.

Some of it has to do with whom the media chooses to interview.

"They'll go to a rally and there might be 50 people in suits and one guy in cammies (camouflage), with a shirt that says 'F the Government' and they'll go interview him," said Janalee Tobias, founder and president of Women Against Gun Control.

Tobias started the organization around 10 years ago after gaining attention for holding a press conference outside former Salt Lake City mayor Deedee Corradini's office to oppose her views on gun control.

"I thought, 'Wow, a citizen can do this? A stay-at-home mom with kids in diapers can hold a news conference and make a statement about gun control?'" Tobias said.

Lobbying is not foreign to W. Clark Aposhian, who offers concealed-carry training and certification , in addition to sitting on the Utah Concealed Carry Review Board, which reviews concealed-carry applications and revocations. He often finds himself in front of the legislature, debating for less gun control.

"I don't bash the anti-rights folks; it doesn't do me any good," Aposhian said. "I don't go into a debate with the object of beating the other guy. What I try to do is educate those people that are listening."

Pro-gun activists argue that gun control doesn't work.

"States that had the most amount of gun control laws -- for example, Washington D.C., Chicago and New York City -- had the highest crime rates and murder rates, in particular," Tobias said. "And the states that had the least amount of gun control laws had the least amount of murder rates."

According to Aposhian, concealed-carry holders have their records checked every 24 hours to ensure that they have not committed any revocable offenses, such as any involving alcohol or drugs, domestic violence,or moral turpitude.

"Make no mistake, if you so much as wave your gun at somebody, it better be in self-defense," said David Nelson, member of Stonewall Shooting Sports of Utah, formerly known as Pink Pistols.

SSSU is the gay and lesbian chapter of gun enthusiasts in Utah, with close to 350 members. The organization gets members involved in activities such as sport shooting and gun safety. Many members go into it never having handled a gun.

"They get this grin on their face," Nelson said. "It's not out of any kind of satisfaction or thrill, but a sense of empowerment: 'Wow, I can actually stand up to 30, 40 years of all these members being pushed around, bullied, of being harassed, of hearing about the Matthew Shepards in the world and wondering if I'm going to be the next one.'"

Organizations like WAGC and SSSU helped to dispel stereotypes associated with gun activists.

"I loved it when Pink Pistols came out, because it completely crushed a myth that gay and lesbian people were liberal, and if you were liberal, you didn't buy guns," Aposhian said. "And I think it also crushed another myth that gun owners wouldn't accept a gay or lesbian person regardless of if they had a gun or not."

According to Nelson, believing in gun rights goes hand-in-hand with believing in the constitution.

"I look at the Second Amendment as I do the rest of the 10 in the Bill of

Rights, in that we don't pick and choose which ones we want to enjoy, which ones we want to express," Nelson said. "I want to enjoy and express all them equally, as liberally as I can."

Elwood Powell, president of the Utah State Rifle and Pistol Association, the local NRA affiliate, believes that rather than eliminating guns, there should be education about guns.

"Every year we have tried to put an education bill in the legislation, so that our public education system would take an hour, maybe two, out of an entire year to teach some fundamental safety requirements," Powell said. "They have fought it."

The NRA has introduced the Eddie Eagle program, and according to Powell, some of the rural schools have been voluntarily teaching it to children. The program is geared towards grade-school-age children and features a mascot, Eddie Eagle, instructing kids to stop, don't touch, leave the area and tell an adult upon seeing a gun.

"In the past several months there have been a rash of accidental shootings in the area," Tobias said. "Kids need to know how to be safe from guns."

Aposhian mentioned that the latest Centers for Disease Control report summarizing all the gun control efforts in the last 18 years stated gun control does not work.

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7.62FullMetalJacket
December 2, 2003, 01:23 AM
I'm proud to be a Utahn.

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