Some firearms owners in Valley are up in arms over handgun bill

By Jon Moffett

YOUNGSTOWN — Kenny Graft doesn’t fear guns. He respects them.

The 54-year-old New Middletown man grew up with firearms and owned his first at age 11. His business, Shooting Star Firearms in New Middletown, sells to hunters and sport shooters, Graft said.

But he believes a bill in Congress would limit his ability to sell firearms to his clientele.

The Blair Holt’s Firearm Licensing and Record of Sale Act of 2009 would require a license to own a handgun or semi-automatic firearm. Currently no license is required to own a handgun in Ohio. The bill would also require current handgun owners to become certified, or risk losing their property.

The bill was submitted by U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., in January. The bill has no co-sponsors and was referred to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security.

The bill came about in response to the fatal shooting of Blair Holt, a 16-year-old student in Chicago. He was killed by gunfire in a gang-related attack on May 10, 2007. Holt moved to shield another student while riding a school bus and was fatally shot.

The bill has become a fixture in e-mails forwarded throughout the Internet. Web sites such as have fact-checked the e-mails and the bill and said some seemingly onerous aspects – such as the fear that the bill would force gun owners to submit to a physical and mental evaluation at any time – are unfounded.

Though the bill is not expected to get out of committee, it still leaves Graft up in arms. He believes guns are being unfairly targeted.

“You’ve got to wonder if it’s not the government’s personal agenda for guns and crime,” he said. “A lot of [the bill] has nothing to do with crime. Unfortunately, I think it’s a path our government is taking”

He added that the government should focus less on making new laws and more on enforcement.

“My take on law is we have enough laws; we don’t need to add more restrictions to honest people,” Graft said. “We have more laws on the books than we’ll ever need right now.”

Read the full story Monday in The Vindicator and on

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