Friday, March 04, 2016

In rural Ohio township where school shooting took place, residents say guns are just a part of life

In rural Madison Township, Ohio—where four students were wounded in a school shooting on Monday—owning and shooting guns is just a way of life among the 8,600 residents, Rick McCrabb reports for the Journal-News, which covers Butler County (Wikipedia map), known as a mecca for fishing and hunting though it is close to Cincinnati and Dayton. Sheriff Richard Jones said 22,000 conceal-carry weapon permits have been issued in the county since 2004. He told McCrabb, "They like to carry firearms. It’s OK to have guns.” Jones said the school-shooting suspect stole his gun from a relative.

Residents interviewed by the Journal-News "said safe, responsible gun ownership is commonplace and widely accepted in the township," McCrabb writes. "Some said many homes in the township are surrounded by or near acres of fields and wooded areas where small animals, coyotes and deer can be a nuisance and at times destructive to gardens, flowers or crops making a gun a useful tool."

"Mike Erter, manager at the Middletown Sportsmen’s Club, located a few miles from the school district, said the club has about 2,200 members and probably 200 are from Madison Township," McCrabb writes. Pam Figley, a gun owner who has lived in Madison Township for 25 years, told McCrabb, “Guns are a part of living out here and people out here know how to handle them safely. Everybody is safe with the guns out here.”

Madison Local Schools Superintendent Curtis Philpot, who owns a concealed-carry permit, but doesn't bring a gun to school, said he "understands a person’s right to carry a gun can be controversial, but he also realizes it’s his responsibility for the safety of the 1,600 students, teachers and staff in the district," McCrabb writes. Philpot told him, “School safety is everyone’ responsibility. My message to parents: If you have a firearm in your house, lock them up. Lock them up. That’s all I ask. You’ve got one backpack. I got 1,600.”

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