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N.H. gun owners doubt that restrictions would reduce shootings

  • Lars Hšgblom, owner of Umlat Industries LLC in Concord, fields phone calls from customers while tending to business at his store on December 20, 2012. The television is flipped on to Fox News Network, which like many news networks in recent days, broadcasts  a discussion regarding gun violence and potential policy change around automatic weapons. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES/ Monitor Staff)

    Lars Hšgblom, owner of Umlat Industries LLC in Concord, fields phone calls from customers while tending to business at his store on December 20, 2012. The television is flipped on to Fox News Network, which like many news networks in recent days, broadcasts a discussion regarding gun violence and potential policy change around automatic weapons.

    (ANDREA MORALES/ Monitor Staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • The AR-15 is a model that is come under close scrutiny in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting. Photographed at Umlat Industries LLC in Concord. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES/ Monitor Staff)

    The AR-15 is a model that is come under close scrutiny in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting. Photographed at Umlat Industries LLC in Concord.

    (ANDREA MORALES/ Monitor Staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Lars Hšgblom, owner of Umlat Industries LLC in Concord, fields phone calls from customers while tending to business at his store on December 20, 2012. The television is flipped on to Fox News Network, which like many news networks in recent days, broadcasts  a discussion regarding gun violence and potential policy change around automatic weapons. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES/ Monitor Staff)
  • The AR-15 is a model that is come under close scrutiny in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting. Photographed at Umlat Industries LLC in Concord. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES/ Monitor Staff)

Lars Hogblom has three kids, all under 8. He also sells semiautomatic rifles – like the kind used in last week’s Connecticut shooting – at his Concord gun shop, Umlaut Industries.

Since the killings and President Obama’s call for a ban on assault weapons, Umlaut’s sales have spiked 300 percent, Hogblom said.

Customers want to buy before those guns are outlawed or for protection, he said. And while some of Hogblom’s friends have told him those sales contribute to gun violence, he doesn’t think so.

“It makes sense that any American who faces a tragedy like this is going to want to find a solution to fix it,” he said. “And of course, they will look at guns first. I don’t think a ban (on assault-style guns) would have made a difference. If someone is determined to do evil, they will do evil.”

In the week since Adam Lanza shot and killed 20 elementary school children, seven adults and himself, the responses have been many.

Yesterday, the National Rifle Association called for armed security guards in every school. Vice President Joe Biden is leading a new task force charged with reducing gun violence. Obama has called on Congress to ban the sale of high-capacity ammunition clips and require background checks for all gun sales. He also wants easier access to mental health care.

Gun owners are paying close attention – and responding in a variety of ways.

A Keene man, who described himself as a liberal Democrat, stopped at Umlaut Industries on Thursday to pick up parts for hunting rifles that he had ordered before the Connecticut shootings.

The parts were going to be Christmas presents for his sons, 13 and 15, so he and they could build their hunting rifles together. He’d been taking them hunting since they were 3 and described building their rifles as rites of passage and a chance to remind them of the responsibility and power they have as gun owners.

Given the Connecticut killings, the man was struggling a bit with his purchase and didn’t want to be named.

“In light of (the shootings), you have to step back and think hard,” he said. “I thought I might not pick these up. But I think people who hunt realize that part of hunting is that something is going to die. I think it teaches them responsibility and that (guns) have a place, and a purpose.”

His kids now won’t get the gun parts until after Christmas, he said, so the focus will be on responsibility and not Christmas cheer.

The man shares the desire to find a solution to gun violence but isn’t convinced a gun ban or tighter regulations would be especially effective. There would still be millions of guns on the streets, he said.

He’d rather focus on the shooters than the guns.

The man said he suspects these shooters share a sense of powerlessness and isolation and perhaps mental illness. He recalled a report that said millions of Americans don’t get mental health care until they commit a crime and said he believes the better answer is improving mental health care.

Even the most vocal gun rights activists agree.

When the state Legislature considers bills restricting gun access, attorney Evan Nappen of Concord is always there to testify in opposition. He’s written a book on New Hampshire gun and knife laws and focuses his practice on helping people keep their rights to possess firearms.

But like the man from Keene, Nappen thinks the state and the country could do a better job of keeping guns out of reach of people with mental illness. Anyone buying a gun from a gun shop in New Hampshire must fill out a form that asks whether they have been committed to a mental institution.

A background check that follows is supposed to check for mental illness, but there’s really no way to do it accurately because mental health records are not public. And, Nappen noted, people who buy guns privately, outside a gun shop, don’t have to fill out the form or go through a background check.

Nappen said there is federal money available for New Hampshire to remedy this, but state officials haven’t pursued it. He was happy to see the NRA call for a national mental illness database yesterday. Without one, there is a loophole in gun safety laws that “you could drive a tractor trailer through,” he said.

Colin Van Ostern, a Concord Democrat just elected to the Executive Council, began hunting about three years ago with a rifle that had been handed down from an uncle. He hunts birds, often accompanied by his dog, because he enjoys being outside and the sport of hunting.

When he learned of the Connecticut shootings, he thought first of his young son. “It was physical,” he said of his reaction. In the days since, he’s thought more about gun violence and having a gun himself.

Van Ostern said he supports a national conversation about guns that includes reinstating a ban on assault weapons. “But I hope it’s a broader conversation than that,” he said.

School safety should be on the list, he said. So should the recognition that Americans have a constitutional right to have firearms – a right reinforced by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Tom Flynn began hunting at 8 and hasn’t stopped. Now 48, he hunts ducks, deer, bear and turkeys. Flynn hunts with a bow. He also hunts with a semiautomatic rifle, but you wouldn’t know it because his rifle isn’t tricked out to look like a military assault weapon.

That’s intentional.

Flynn, of Alexandria, struggles with the message those assault-looking guns send. While his semiautomatic rifle can shoot like the AR-15 weapon the Connecticut shooter used, his isn’t going draw the same attention or strike the same fear in most people, he said.

Those assault-looking weapons are popularized by violent video games, Flynn said. And the younger generation, not his generation, is making those guns the most popular firearms in America, he said.

A non-gun owner sees that type of gun, thinks it’s a machine gun and conflates responsible hunters with “gun freaks” who kill people, he said.

On the other hand, Flynn doesn’t believe more gun regulation will cut down on gun violence. Felons are not legally allowed to have guns, but a felon could easily buy a gun in a private sale, especially if the seller didn’t know about the buyer’s record, he said.

Flynn would rather see the regulations in place better enforced. “Banning guns is only going to punish the responsible gun owners like me,” he said.

Rep. Kyle Tasker, a Republican from Nottingham, carries a concealed gun just about everywhere he goes. He made news earlier this year when he dropped his gun at a legislative committee hearing. No one was hurt.

Tasker said his earliest memories of guns are from the summer he was 12. His father gave him a rifle and a box of .22 caliber bullets, which are a little bigger than a Good N’ Plenty candy. Tasker, now 27, shot up soda cans until he’d gone through about 700 rounds.

“It was cheap entertainment back then,” he said. When his father made him pick up all the empty shell casings, he said it was sobering to see how fast he went through so many bullets. A few years later, Tasker took a hunter’s safety course and at 17 or 18 shot his first buck.

Tasker is a gun enthusiast, in the woods and out of it. His wife is a teacher who also carries a concealed gun, and he wishes she could bring it into her classroom for safety.

When he head the NRA called for armed security in schools yesterday, Tasker was thrilled. He said he’d even support giving teachers a 5 percent pay raise if they agreed to take gun safety training and keep a gun in school.

The Connecticut shooting has stuck with Tasker, too. It has reinforced his belief that citizens should exercise their right to bear arms.

“I think anyone who carries is going to have to be more diligent in doing so,” he said. “If something like that ever happened on their watch (and they weren’t armed), they would never be able to forgive themselves. There would have been a possibility that the situation could have ended differently.”

(Annmarie Timmins can be reached at 369-3323, or on Twitter @annmaretimmins.)

Legacy Comments18

Guess we should all put our confidence behind the idea that finding ways for those planning massacre can be coaxed in to talking about their feelings, huh? And you call those of us who defend our rights and remind all that gun control doesn't work stupid?

Tasker supports giving teachers a raise if the take gun courses, supports the NRA ( National Reactionary Association) putting armed police in schools... Give me a break, the idiot drops his gun in the State House, so much for knowing how to safely handle a weapon. Let's see, spend more money to post an armed police officer, pay teachers more for weapons training. Well it was only months ago that the lunatic right was for cutting police, cutting teachers to balance budgets, now all that changes. What conviction! Myself being relatively new to guns, from a historical aspect, have never run across a more dangerous group of raving lunatics as are to be found on AR15 forums. In my view a high percentage of the assault rifle lovers are iffy at best. They sell "Zombie Killer Ammo" for them - I rest my case, Zombie's?? Hunter Dan - not to worry, there is a big separation between hunters and gun nuts. Though hunters unfairly get the fallout. For the record, if my teachers were armed, I am sure I would have been an "accidental" shooting victim. Bad idea on many levels. They're educators not security guards.

So what then happens if a leader declares marshal law and takes over as a dictator? Citizens have no weapons, no one can resist. A leader could do so without a shot being fired. If they know where the guns are, they will just go confiscate them. You are far too trusting of the government and I am purchasing two semi automatics after seeing the danger that the Left presents in this country. You can then include me in the "gun nut" group. No, teachers should not be armed.'s possible that gun controls may not be the answer. But don't we owe those little angels in Sandy Hook to at least give it a try?

Want to see an experiment on taking guns away from the public? Lets look at Australia. A few years ago, the government said, Hey, lets make things more safe for you in general, lets take your guns! We'll protect you, keep you safe, so there is no reason to need guns. Guess what... only the honest, law abiding people turned their's in. Guess what? Home Invasions and violent gun crimes have sky rocketed! Guess what... Not having "legal" guns on the streets has only emboldened people to commit crimes without the fear of being shot. It's a tragedy this happened at Sandy Hook. I have kids exactly their age! I want nothing more than to keep them safe. But I'm not a fear monger. Door buzzers wont protect them. Locking handles on bathroom doors wont protect them.. Shades on classroom windows wont protect them. These only serve to tell our children a "boogey man" is around every corner, and they need to be fearful of that boogey man, because around every corner someone will do them harm. Sure that's a great way to raise confident children! Unless we can eliminate 100% of guns in the world, we will never eliminate shootings. Until we arrive at that juncture in life, I am happy to keep mine, and continue teaching my children to live life, respect life.. To enjoy life, to be cautious in what they do... and to deal with that boogey man if he just happens to be around that corner.

Ok,"Lets look at Australia": "In a popular tourist spot at Port Arthur, Tasmania, in April 1996, a lone gunman killed 20 innocents with his first 29 bullets, all in the space of 90 seconds......After a decade of gun massacres which saw 100 people shot dead and 38 wounded, Australians had overwhelmingly had enough of anyone with a grudge gaining easy, mostly legal access to weapons designed expressly to kill a lot of people in a very short time....Rapid-fire rifles and shotguns were banned, gun owner licensing was tightened ......In the years after the Port Arthur massacre, the risk of dying by gunshot in Australia fell by more than 50% -- and stayed there. In the 16 years since the announcement of legislation specifically designed to reduce gun massacres, Australia has seen no mass shootings......the national rate of gun homicide remains 30 times lower than that of the United States."

It's certainly is fitting that you chose an "Opinion" page to select your information from. Lets balance out this opinion piece with a slice of news from *Australia*...

Thank you again Jvalley (twice in one day). You are correct, you can't fix the progressive mindset of spreading propaganda from opinion and often extreme opinion pages. They believe that if you say something enough, people will start to believe it.

Your pro-gun youtube video does seem to be all over the place on youtube. ABC News, 12-19/12 "Lessons From Down Under Stem the Undertaker Here?":

Nobody needs a 100-round drum or a 30-round magazine to protect themselves and their family. Those are only for people who are neither safe nor proficient with firearms (oh, yeah, and for people who are completely paranoid). The very ones who should NOT have them is exactly who they are made for. And the gun industry and Wayne Lapierre laugh all the way to the bank as they mouth the words of freedom. Disgusting.

I agree wholeheartedly! Hunters are the safest, most responsible group of gun-owners there are. And their semi-automatic weapons can't fire more than 10 rounds because no one makes magazines for those type of weapons that are more than 10 rounds. The only guns they make high-capacity rounds for are the non-hunting "assautl-style" weapons. So . . . go ahead and ban the high capacity mags all you want. But don't try and ban a specific type of firearm because that will only punish law-abiding citizens and won't solve ANYTHING.

Those defenseless souls were sitting ducks. They deserved to be protected. Remember Pearl MS, the Assistant Principal subdued the attacker...with his gun.

"AREN'T QUALIFIED TO EVALUATE BECAUSE YOU KNOW NOTHING ABOUT GUNS": April 1999 - two teenage schoolboys shot and killed 12 schoolmates and a teacher at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, before killing themselves. July 1999 - a stock exchange trader in Atlanta, Georgia, killed 12 people including his wife and two children before taking his own life. September 1999 - a gunman opened fire at a prayer service in Fort Worth, Texas, killing six people before committing suicide. October 2002 - a series of sniper-style shootings occurred in Washington DC, leaving 10 dead. August 2003 - in Chicago, a laid-off worker shot and killed six of his former workmates. November 2004 - in Birchwood, Wisconsin, a hunter killed six other hunters and wounded two others after an argument with them. March 2005 - a man opened fire at a church service in Brookfield, Wisconsin, killing seven people. October 2006 - a truck driver killed five schoolgirls and seriously wounded six others in a school in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania before taking his own life. April 2007 - student Seung-Hui Cho shot and killed 32 people and wounded 15 others at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia, before shooting himself, making it the deadliest mass shooting in the United States after 2000. August 2007 - Three Delaware State University students were shot and killed in “execution style” by a 28-year-old and two 15-year-old boys. A fourth student was shot and stabbed. December 2007 - a 20-year-old man killed nine people and injured five others in a shopping center in Omaha, Nebraska. December 2007 - a woman and her boyfriend shot dead six members of her family on Christmas Eve in Carnation, Washington. February 2008 - a shooter who is still at large tied up and shot six women at a suburban clothing store in Chicago, leaving five of them dead and the remaining one injured. February 2008 - a man opened fire in a lecture hall at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois, killing five students and wounding 16 others before laying down his weapon and surrendering. September 2008 - a mentally ill man who was released from jail one month earlier shot eight people in Alger, Washington, leaving six of them dead and the rest two wounded. December 2008 - a man dressed in a Santa Claus suit opened fire at a family Christmas party in Covina, California, then set fire on the house and killed himself. Police later found nine people dead in the debris of the house. March 2009 - a 28-year-old laid-off worker opened fire while driving a car through several towns in Alabama, killing 10 people. March 2009 - a heavily armed gunman shot dead eight people, many of them elderly and sick people, in a private-owned nursing home in North Carolina. March 2009 - six people were shot dead in a high-grade apartment building in Santa Clara, California. April 2009 - a man shot dead 13 people at a civic center in Binghamton, New York. July 2009 - Six people, including one student, were shot in a drive-by shooting at a community rally on the campus of Texas Southern University, Houston. November 2009 - U.S. army psychologist Major Nidal Hasan opened fire at a military base in Fort Hood, Texas, leaving 13 dead and 42 others wounded. February 2010 – A professor opened fire 50 minutes into at a Biological Sciences Department faculty meeting at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, killing three colleagues and wounding three others. January 2011 - a gunman opened fire at a public gathering outside a grocery in Tucson, Arizona, killing six people including a 9-year-old girl and wounding at least 12 others. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was severely injured with a gunshot to the head. April 2 - A gunman kills seven people and wounds three in a shooting rampage at a Christian college in Oakland. July 20 - A masked gunman kills 12 people and wounds 58 when he opens fire on moviegoers at a showing of the Batman film "The Dark Knight Rises" in Aurora, a suburb of Denver, Colorado. Aug. 5 - A gunman kills six people during Sunday services at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, before he is shot dead by a police officer. Aug. 24 - Two people are killed and eight wounded in a shooting outside the landmark Empire State Building in New York City at the height of the tourist season. Sept. 27 - A disgruntled former employee kills five people and takes his own life in a shooting rampage at a Minneapolis sign company from which he had been fired. Oct. 21 - Three people are killed in a Milwaukee area spa including the estranged wife of the suspected gunman, who then killed himself. Dec. 14 - A shooter opens fire at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, killing several people including children. We need background checks on all transfers of gun ownership.

Your post doesn't prove that you know anything about guns . . . it just proves that you can do a google search for "gun violence."

Knowing the results of "gun violence" is part of evaluating what needs to be done in order to stop the madness. If a person is not knowledgeable about the precise terminology and mechanical aspects of the various types of firearms, they are still entitled to participate in the discussion in an effort to make their country a safer place to live and raise their children. I have guns, I took a hunter safety course long ago, and I would be willing to have a background check and register my guns in a united effort to help reduce the senseless mass killings. And I welcome any thoughts and ideas from non-gun owners - after all. gun owners only make up about 1/4 of the US population. Of that 1/4 I'm happy to learn that there is a likely significant majority of responsible gun owners who, like yourself, may support measures that would reduce the availability of the types of weapons and/or clips, mags, and drums that enable those who would senselessly mass murder people in a few seconds.

We should stop focusing on the weapons themselves and start focusing on the ammunition storage and delivery systems! The clips, mags and "drums." There are two major differences between your average "assault-style" semi auto and your average hunting semi-auto shotgun or rifle. 1) The ones for hunting don't have "pointy bits and goo-gaws" (i.e. flash suppressors, handles, pistol grips, etc.) This difference means absolutely nothing because it does not relate to the functionality of the weapon. 2) There are no - never were any - and never will be - any 10+ round magazines made for any semi-automatic weapons designed for hunting. To the contrary, depending on the weapon, the state regulations and the game you're pursuing - you may only be allowed by law - or physically capable based on the weapon - to carry THREE rounds in the gun. Contrast that with the 30 round clips and 100 round drums that have been used in school shootings. ATTENTION "GUN BANNERS" - STOP FOCUSING ON THE FIREARMS THEMSELVES - THAT WILL ONLY LEAD YOU INTO A GREY AREA YOU AREN'T QUALIFIED TO EVALUATE BECAUSE YOU KNOW NOTHING ABOUT GUNS. FOCUS INSTEAD ON THE CLIPS, MAGS AND "DRUMS." You'll find you get a much broader base of support to regulate those things.

Ah, yes. More arms are the answer; just like more drunk drivers would be the answer to motor vehicle homicides, if that logic were true. It's all about the money, folks, that's what it is.

Great ! "loopy" Tasker is now our role model. Oh brother. And why did the loving father who wanted to celebrate the birth of Jesus by upgrading the weaponry of his children not want to be named? I think it's time we post a teacher in every gun shop. It might help things a little bit. Last week at the gun shop I stop by once in a while one of the regulars was bestowing us all with his conviction and knowledge that Black people loved being slaves. This week I can only imagine his joy at the NRA's suggestion that we should now all send our children to armed fortresses for grade school. But I digress,,,,, Maybe we all need to upgrade weaponry this week coming up. After all. How could it be wrong if we do it to celebrate the birth of the baby Jesus?

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