“No new laws will have a big chance of passing in the House,” the 12th District representative predicted during a town hall meeting with Columbia County constituents.
The Democrat said the emotional fallout from the Dec. 14 mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., doesn’t change the fact that the right to keep arms is grounded in the Constitution.
“There is a tendency on the part of both sides to react to an issue,” he said. “But the Constitution has not changed.”
The three major “legs of the stool” in the gun debate are America’s gun culture, traditionally open access to firearms and dealing with the mentally ill, he said.
Two of those matters are protected by the Constitution, he said, and “we have to deal with the issue of the mentally disturbed.”
In a 30-second ad last fall, Barrow touted his endorsement from the National Rifle Association and showed a vintage revolver handed down from his grandfather, along with a rifle his father once used to protect the family.
“These are my guns now, and ain’t nobody going to take them away,” Barrow said in the ad.
Monday’s meeting, which attracted about 40 people, was the first of 16 gatherings Barrow has scheduled to listen to voters in his district.
Topics on people’s minds Monday included the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, veterans benefits, the Environmental Protection Agency, payroll tax increases, Medicare and the “fiscal cliff.”
Barrow, asked how long the nation can survive on its current spending track, said there is an urgency to rein in spending to avoid harming future generations.
“Our kids will be dealing with plenty of problems we don’t even know about,” he said. “We have no business playing chicken with that future.”