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Ammo flying off the shelves

Published 4:05pm Monday, January 28, 2013


Fear of tighter gun regulations in the wake of mass shootings is evident on the depleted shelves of ammunition sellers.

“I was at Walmart (Friday) night and they had one box of pistol ammunition in the case for $35. Normally, they’ve got all different calibers, 80 or 100 boxes. It’s all gone,” said Jim Collins, a retired deputy sheriff who teaches shooting classes. “People are stockpiling because they think there’s going to be legislation. With (Vice President) Joe Biden, who knows what’s going to happen? All new laws are going to do is to make it more difficult for law-abiding citizens,” Collins said.

“They’re buying it by the case because of the shooting in Connecticut,” agreed Ron Hartline, Dowagiac Conservation Club vice president. “They’re trying to take away gun rights. I’ll give you an example. These AR rifles, no matter what caliber, Cabela’s has them for $800. You could buy one and flip it for over $2,000. They have them in stock, but you’ve got to call and get on their list. There’s a shortage of ARs because that’s what they’re going after, assault rifles. Once you buy one, they can’t take it away from you — so far. (President) Obama’s the biggest gun seller we’ve got. We’ve got a big crowd today (at the 16th Hunter’s Rendezvous) because of him. Our Second Amendment right is to own and bear arms, though I can’t see the multiple magazines in some cases. I got a catalog the other day advertising a 50-round drum magazine for a Glock 9mm — a handgun. Now why would you want that? You couldn’t lift it! We’ve got guys who shoot AR-22s. Personally, it’s not a sporting weapon. I used it in the military. If we had another revolution, the people revolt against the government and (Obama) declares martial law, he’d call in the United Nations because the National Guard isn’t going to shoot its own people.”

Hartline and Richard Atkinson, Hunter’s Rendezvous event coordinator, agree that legislative attempts to restrict firepower in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy will make lawmakers “feel good” and appear to be responsive without accomplishing anything.

Limiting clips to 10 or 20 rounds would be as effective as New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s war on super-sized soft drinks. Small clips can be switched quickly.

“The mayor banned multiple-round magazines, so the most you can have is seven,” Hartline said. “But, he didn’t exempt police, so that’s all they can have. It backfired.”

Hartline said the better answer is background checks that keep weapons from the mentally ill. “Take that kid in Connecticut. He lived with his mom. She bought the guns, but why didn’t they see who lived in the household so if there was a mental issue, she locked them up. If they ban ARs, who’s going to have them? Criminals, on the black market. What have they accomplished? Nothing.”

Chicago’s dismal results from tough gun laws are a popular talking point.

Atkinson, brother of Dowagiac’s police chief, said, “Chicago’s problem is gang-driven. Over the years, they let it get out of control to where there are places in Chicago where cops don’t go.”

“Let Detroit, Chicago and New York have gun restrictions,” Hartline said, “but leave us alone. We’re a small community made up of hunters and sportsmen. If they want to curb gun sales, curb violence on TV and in video games. These kids sit there 24/7, killing zombies. The shooting in Connecticut, seven of them were stabbed. Are you going to ban knives? The principal who lunged at him, if she had a gun or a taser, could have stopped him. I agree with the NRA (National Rifle Association) on putting armed guards in school. President Obama’s (daughters) go to school with armed guards around them 24/7. Are ours any different when it comes to safety? The news media ought to calm itself down instead of days of ‘facts’ which aren’t true.”

Atkinson has listened to discussions that schools could be equipped with bulletproof anterooms and metal detectors at a single entry point for $80,000, which would be cheaper than stationing police.

Collins is an NRA-certified instructor teaching concealed weapons classes. Instructors, who also include fellow certified police officers Ron Cruzan, formerly of the Cass County Sheriff’s Office, and Gary Losey, formerly of Dowagiac Police Department, offer through Personal Protection Solutions one-day classes at Porter Township Hall, Lawton, Van Buren County. Cost is $125, which includes lunch and materials, $100 for veterans. Instruction lasts from 8:30 to 5.

Collins, who retired from the Sheriff’s Office last July after 34 years, has a firearms training simulator, or FATS, which is like a video game with a customized Glock tethered to it. It’s been his sideline for about 10 years.

This will be the fourth summer he and his wife, LeeAnn, who works in the county treasurer’s office, organize the Backyard Chef grilling contest for the Cass County Fair.

“Every class I teach has two or three women,” Collins said. “I’m thinking about running one for just ladies. They want their protection as well as everybody else. Obama could turn it over to the (Environmental Protection Agency) because when you shoot, it discharges lead in the air. Can you imagine EPA being in charge of those investigations for surcharges? That’s the kind of stuff he can do without Congress.”

Collins, who teaches classes about twice a month, “doesn’t see anything wrong” with putting police into schools for security.

“I’d give up my guns for the rest of my life if it would bring those kids in Connecticut back,” Atkinson said. “It’s a crying shame, but it won’t.”




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