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Local merchants, officials react to Obama’s plan to reduce gun crime

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By Sarah Bennett

Danny Persful has owned Uncle Dan’s Pawn Gun and Archery in Elizabethtown for three decades. He said December was his highest selling month in 30 years of business.

Persful said he limited customers to 100 rounds of ammunition so he knew he had enough to sell the next week.

“I’ve had an increase in sales since Obama took office,” the store owner said. “He’s the biggest gun salesman in the country.”

Persful noticed an increase during President Barack Obama’s first term. Sales spiked again when Obama was re-elected in November, he said, before reaching a peak in December.

On Wednesday, the president announced an initiative to curtail gun violence.

The push entails legislative and executive actions, including a potential ban on assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines and universal background checks for all gun buyers, eliminating a loophole permitting purchases from non-licensed sellers without background checks.

Persful referred to Obama’s statements as “feel good” and said the president’s initiative will have little impact.

“There are already laws that say don’t kill people,” Persful said.

In Kentucky, Persful said background checks already are performed for every gun purchase. Gun buyers must present a Kentucky driver’s license and pass a background check through the National Crime Information Center, he said.

To purchase a rifle, the buyer must be 18 and 21 to purchase a handgun, Persful said.

Asked about gun violence in the Hardin County area, Elizabethtown Police Chief Tracy Schiller said the area is fortunate to have a violent crime rate that is low compared to the state and nation.

“I don’t think we should be lax and think we’re immune to that,” Schiller said.

Though the chief said police do not advocate either side of the gun debate, Schiller said he encourages caution when owning weapons and recognizing the dangers those items pose.

In the last several weeks, he said Hardin County law enforcement agencies have met face-to-face to discuss not only mitigating an active-shooter situation but also how to reduce opportunities for one to occur.

The president’s push to increase gun control was spurred by an elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn., that left 26 dead, including 20 first-grade students.

In a statement released Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie, R-Bowling Green, said while he recognizes the tragedy of the shooting in Newtown, he disagrees with Obama’s focus on gun control in reaction to the act of violence.

“I look forward to reviewing the president’s recommendations; however, I believe that achieving the goal of safety for our children will be best accomplished through focusing on mental health issues as opposed to infringing on the Constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens,” Guthrie said.

According to Guthrie, the House of Representatives Committee on Education & the Workforce will examine school safety and how to protect students.

“I will be interested in hearing from Kentucky education officials to get their views,” he said.

Sarah Bennett can be reached at (270) 505-1750 or sbennett@thenewsenterprise.com.