Local gun supporters view president's gun control proposal as threat to freedom

President Obama’s proposal to toughen America’s gun laws came as unwelcome news to some patrons at an Augusta gun range on Wednesday afternoon, several who said the move threatens their right to bear arms and won’t solve problems of mass shootings.

“All that’s fine and dan­dy but people that usually do the evil deeds don’t go by what is legal to begin with,” said Randy Teasley, of Augusta, who practiced with a .22-caliber rifle at Shooters indoor range and gun shop off Washington Road.

Gun control measures need to focus on keeping firearms out of the hands of the mentally ill, Teasley said. He agreed with Obama’s proposal for stronger background checks but didn’t think banning high-capacity ammunition magazines or assault rifles was a practical solution.

Russell Creighton, of North Augusta, who also practiced at Shooters, said tighter gun control laws are a threat to a hobby and sport he enjoys.

“If people hurt people with guns, they should be punished,” Creighton said. “I’m not saying take the guns from the law-abiding citizens cause that’s wrong. I haven’t done a thing but come here and shoot.”

Mass shootings won’t stop with a ban on high-capacity magazines, he said. With enough practice, an individual can learn to change magazines quickly and continue a shooting rampage.

The president’s proposal was a good starting point for Bill Wahl, of North Augusta, who thinks gun control needs to be addressed. The proposal has flaws but he agreed with expanded background checks for gun purchases and limits on high-capacity magazines.

“We have an awful lot of laws in existence now and admittedly some of them aren’t working 100 percent,” Wahl said.

Wahl and Teasley said more clear definitions of assault weapons must be established.

Shooters’ owner Buddy Lichty said people rushed to his store and range in the weeks following the Dec. 14 school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., fearing tighter gun control would come.

The rush slowed down slightly in recent days only because there is a shortage of products, Lichty said. He is uncertain how the measures, if passed by Congress, will affect future business.

Teasley said the president’s announcement was a political move intended to appease people after the Sandy Hook massacre. A focus on keeping guns away from the mentally ill is long overdue.

“They would have done nothing if it hadn’t been for Newtown,” he said.

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