Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling overturned a 32-year-old handgun ban in Washington D.C. That ruling now allows people to have a handgun in their home for personal protection.

Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling overturned a 32-year-old handgun ban in Washington D.C. That ruling now allows people to have a handgun in their home for personal protection.

 Chief Deputy Mark Steelman, Wayne County Sheriff’s Department, agrees with the Supreme Court’s decision. “It’s a Constitutional right, if it’s done with a lot of responsibility,” he said. Deputy Steelman says gun ownership has to be coupled with, “good gun safety and responsibility.”

 A prior police officer in D.C., Deputy Steelman said, “I really didn’t understand (the ban) because there’s such a high crime rate and such a high murder rate and the violence, and the average citizens couldn’t possess a firearm.” 

Skip Mendler, Co-founder of Wayne Peace, says, “I think we now have a clearer understanding about exactly what Constitutional rights citizens have with regard to handguns, or any firearms or other weapons for that matter, but all rights are balanced by responsibilities, and what we need to have now is a better conversation about what responsibilities accompany the ‘right to keep and bear arms.’

“But even that, important as it is, is really a superficial discussion - when what we really need to be addressing are the social, cultural, and economic conditions that lead to crime and violence in the first place, and that make people think they must have firearms in order to defend themselves,” Mr. Mendler said.

 Ralph Curtis of Sterling, a Quaker, has mixed feelings on the court’s ruling. “People need to know what (guns are) meant for and what they’re not meant for. My dad always told me, ‘Never point a gun at anything that you don’t want to shoot,’ and that includes people, whether you think the gun is empty or not,” Mr. Curtis said.

Mr. Curtis wonders if people might react in the moment. “If people don’t stop and think, they might use (a gun) as an alternative when it isn’t necessary. If they see an intruder, instead of confronting the person with a reasonable approach, they’re likely to take the easier approach ...and shoot rather than talk. Guns are not meant to deal with people. In our lifestyle and in growing up, we just used guns for hunting and that’s all,” Mr. Curtis said.

Rod Bryant, owner of Bryant Firearms Repair, Dyberry Township, says, “Personally, I think it’s long overdue. I just have always believed and still do, that the Second Amendment gives you the right to own a firearm, as long as you’re a law-abiding citizen and you have no criminal record to prevent you from using one.

“They don’t really have any good proof to show that banning fire arm ownership does anything to help the crime problem. People who are intent on committing crimes are going to get firearms whether they’re banned or not ...There’s a good possibility that you may see crimes against citizens be reduced. Criminals are now going to know that these homeowners can legally have a gun in their home.”

The 53-year-old gunshop repair owner says he’s had guns since he was 21. “I have never felt it necessary to bring that firearm into play for any reason ...I don’t think people are going to shoot people that come to the door now. Personally, I don’t know anyone that wants to kill another human being. I believe basically every person is responsible,” he says. “(But) you will always have your nut-balls out there ...You’ll always have the fringe.”

Harley Reed of Honesdale stressed safety in gun ownership, saying guns should be kept under lock and key with some sort of trigger lock on so that a child can’t get hurt. He says keys to the gun cabinet should be kept in one place and keys to the trigger lock in another.

Bryant was also talking about safety, saying it would be a good idea if Pennsylvania put a training course in place prior to allowing a gun permit. Deputy Steelman says the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department has issued around 350 gun permits since January. Gun permits are good for five years.