WAYNE COUNTY - The individual right to keep and bear arms, and whether that right deserves restrictions, has caught John McCain and Barack Obama paradoxically fighting for gun control laws in the past. Today, they are cheerleaders of the Second Amendment, according to public statements.

Wayne County gun owners and the national gun lobbies, however, have mixed feelings - and some fears -  on the day when either the Democrat or the Republican takes the White House.


WAYNE COUNTY - The individual right to keep and bear arms, and whether that right deserves restrictions, has caught John McCain and Barack Obama paradoxically fighting for gun control laws in the past. Today, they are cheerleaders of the Second Amendment, according to public statements.
Wayne County gun owners and the national gun lobbies, however, have mixed feelings - and some fears -  on the day when either the Democrat or the Republican takes the White House. Will they take my guns, some of my guns, or no guns?
Peter Snyder, a life-long Republican and hunter from Lake Ariel, does not believe Obama will take his hunting rifles.
“I think if they do away with hunting in this country, they are going to do away with animal control,” said Snyder, of controlling the animal population.  “I feel that hunting is a right, and I don’t think anyone is going to do away with hunting.”
McCain is jumping on the gun-bandwagon only to rally more voters, he said. Besides, he added: “The next president is going to have a lot of things to worry about other than gun control.”
Possible gun restrictions do indeed rattle the bones of others. 
“Obama has some people saying that he is for the Second Amendment,” said Frank Golden, chairman of the county Republican committee. “I’m here to tell you he’s not.”
Gun owners “are terrified and they should be” of an Obama presidency, said Golden.  “He’s comin’ in to get them (guns), if he gets in” the White House.  
McCain has not always been the love child of the National Rifle Association (NRA), like he is today. The Arizona senator has supported instant background checks of all buyers at gun shows, mandatory trigger locks, and sponsored successful legislation that placed restrictions on political advertisements by groups like the NRA. 
He has supported pro-gun platforms, like opposing the 1994 semi-automatic assault weapons ban that restricted magazine capacity and banned the manufacturing of some these guns, among other measures. 
But McCain did “entertain” supporting the 1994 ban, which was set to expire in 2004, during the 2000 Republican presidential primaries, according to Gun Owners of America (GOA).
GOA, a Second Amendment lobbying group, gave McCain an “F-” rating in 2006 for his gun positions. 
John Velleco, the GOA’s director of federal affairs, put it this way for gun-minded voters.

Troubling vs. disturbing

“(McCain’s) presidency would be troubling.  Obama’s would be disturbing,” said Velleco.
It appears McCain is supporting pro-gun initiatives lately, but is it a “true ideological shift” or political pandering, he asked.   
“I am in no way out to make him ... a pro-gun hero,” he said.  “When he ran for president in 2000, (McCain) made a wide turn to the left on the gun issue. I guess he figured George Bush had that issue locked.”
The Democratic presidential nominee, on the other hand, has a stronger record of regulating guns - mostly semi-automatic assault weapons and handguns - than his opponent, the record clearly shows. 
Mike Jones owns Northeast Firearms, a sizable gun shop on Main Street in Honesdale, loaded with rifles, shotguns and handguns. An AK-47, once banned by the now-expired federal assault weapons law, hangs  on one wall. 
“I don’t want to be biased on this, but if he (Obama) gets in, we better worry,” said Jones, of the gun issue. He said Obama has yet to truly assure him that guns will be left alone in his administration.  
“I would like to know if there is something to sway me,” said Jones. He said, however, that the Democrat’s record - to this point - speaks for itself.
Obama has supported and voted for gun restrictions, early in his career as an Illinois state senator and most recently as a U.S. senator.
In a questionnaire sponsored by a Chicago political group, Obama, who was running for the U.S. Senate at the time, was asked if he supported “legislation to ban the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns?”
He wrote: “While a complete ban on handguns is not politically practicable, I believe reasonable restrictions on the sale and possession of handguns are necessary to protect the public safety. In the Illinois Senate last year, I supported a package of bills to limit individual Illinoisans to purchasing one handgun a month.”
In 2004, he told the Chicago Tribune, “I am consistently on record and will continue to be on record as opposing concealed carry.”
Although, he has said “what works in Chicago may not work in Cheyenne,” Wyoming.  Handguns are banned in Chicago. 
He has also supported banning some semi-automatic weapons (he voted for Illinois legislation), renewing the federal assault weapons ban, mandating background checks for all buyers at gun shows, and limiting the sale of handgun ammunition, according to public statements and documents. 
Synder said an assault weapon ban is not a legitimate concern for hunters. 
“We don’t need assault weapons to go in and shoot a deer, or there would be nothing left,” he said. The Obama and McCain campaigns did not respond to a request for comment. 

Fine line

Obama walks the fine line of the gun control movement - which heralds public safety - and the unrestrictive nature of the Second Amendment.
"I believe in the Second Amendment," he recently said in Ohio, the Associated Press reported. "I believe in people's lawful right to bear arms. I will not take your shotgun away. I will not take your rifle away. I won't take your handgun away."
When the Supreme Court ruled that the Washington D.C. handgun ban was unconstitutional - Obama supported the ban, McCain didn’t - Obama released a statement saying “if we can act responsibly, we can both protect the constitutional right to bear arms and keep our community ... safe.”
The National Rifle Association (NRA), however, calls Obama the “most anti-gun president in American History.”
The powerful gun lobby published a website called gunbanobama.com.  They now publicly support McCain. 
Velleco admitted that McCain’s gun position is hard to pin down.  He compared McCain to a “moving target.”
Jones said anything is possible when government officials put guns into their cross hairs.
“Everybody says, they’re not going to take our guns.  They did it in Canada,” he said. 
Canadian handgun ownership is mainly restricted to police, security guards, members of gun clubs or collectors, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
“I don’t like a ban on anything because once they start with something it’s only a matter of time,” said Jones. 
Neither McCain nor Obama owns a gun, according to the AP.