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Gun control debate takes center stage in Berks Co.

By John Craven, Reporter, JCraven@wfmz.com
Published On: Jan 30 2013 02:16:22 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 06 2013 10:24:28 AM CST

Gun Show Protests

The national gun control debate is hitting Berks County.  As a gun show rolled into Leesport on Saturday, so did protesters.

In these parts, a gun show usually doesn't draw much attention.

"I've been selling guns for some time," said gun seller Rod Cook.

But that was before a gunman killed 20 first graders at a Connecticut elementary school last month.

"It's time to have the conversation and actually finish it, and come up with solutions," said gun control supporter Karin Feridun.

Feridun organized a small protest outside Saturday's gun show at the Leesport Farmers Market.  Gun show protests have been on the rise since the Newtown shooting, with protests Saturday in several states.  At least 10 gun control bills have already been introduced in the new Congress as well.

Feridun's group is taking aim at the so-called "gun show loophole."

"If you were to go to a Walmart or another retailer, you would have to do all the paperwork, but in 33 states, there's the gun show loophole that has no restriction on the sale of guns," she said.

Unlike most states, Pennsylvania does require background checks for most gun show sales.

"Criminals don't obey laws," said Denny Mallonee, a pastor and part-time annunition seller who opposes further gun laws.  "You can pass all the laws you want, and we have some good ones."

As more protests have popped up, gun owners like Cook have flocked to shows, worried the government will take their weapons.

"With the liberal media and the liberal government in this country, is going to someday come and take my guns away from me," he said.  "I would sell them before that happens."

Mallonee said guns are not the problem, but lack of education is.

"Forty years ago, we had just as many guns per capita as we do now, but you didn't hear about all this crazy stuff back then," he said.  "Why?"

Feridun said she has received hate mail this week over the protest.

"Nobody here wants to take away guns," she insisted.  "What we want to do is figure out solutions that would help regulate them better."