Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Western Kentucky county rocked by high-school shooting remains skeptical of gun control measures

A deadly school shooting rocked Marshall County High School in Western Kentucky this January, but that hasn't changed local attitudes about gun control very much, Dylan Lovan reports for The Associated Press.

Lovan focuses first on Jeff Dysinger, whose 15-year-old daughter Hannah was shot in the arm and chest. He doesn't agree with calls to curb military-style weapons. A former soldier who uses his AR-15 for sport shooting and hunting, he told Lovan, "I think everybody in rural Kentucky, we're all brought up with guns, I mean we've all been around guns our entire life. . . . Kids in cities like (Parkland, Fla.) don't get that." Hannah Dysinger said she supports more comprehensive background checks and, like her dad, wants to make sure the wrong people don't get their hands on guns.

Marshall County (Wikipedia map)
That stance is reflected by former sheriff Brian Roy, who was the unsuccessful Democratic nominee for Congress in 1996, the election after a Republican won the seat for the first time since the Civil War, partly because the one-term Democrat had cast a vote that helped put an "assault weapons" ban in that year's crime bill. "I think everybody here respects guns. We appreciate the opportunity to have them," Roy said. "We respect the Second Amendment. We're not going to be the type to go out and have any dramatic changes, because we've grown up with guns, for hunting."

Marshall County generally reflects the gun views of rural America. Lovan notes, "A Pew Research poll from April 2017 showed 63 percent of Americans in rural areas said it's more important to support gun rights than gun control, compared to only 37 percent in urban areas."

After the shooting, the conversation in Marshall County tended to focus not on gun control, but on improving security and increasing the presence of armed personnel in schools. School Supt. Trent Lovett said his students' familiarity with guns may have helped save lives; when shooter Gabriel Parker was changing magazines on his Ruger, some students saw the moment for what it was and were able to direct students to run.

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