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Family of shooters supports gun rights

By Melissa Crowe
Aug. 19, 2012 at 3:19 a.m.
Updated Sept. 3, 2012 at 4:03 a.m.


Earsplitting gunshots are synonymous with prosperity at Sun Valley Drive.

Those gunshots took Denise McCrary Wood, 44, to college and later, paid for her wedding.

Since inheriting the Victoria Gun and Archery Club that her late-father, Gary McCrary, opened about 20 years ago, she and her husband, Bryan, 43, are making their living off gunshots, too.

In light of recent shootings and mass shootings in Texas and across the country, especially during this election year, the debate on gun rights, control and regulations invariably rears its head.

"Law-abiding citizens should have a right to protect themselves," she said.

Taking these rights away would not make anyone safer, but gun education can, she said.

According to 50 years of Gallup polls, almost half of Americans have a handgun in their home, and the number of supporters for a ban on handguns is shrinking.

In 2011, according to Gallup, there was a record-low of Americans - 26 percent - in favor of a legal ban on the possession of handguns in the U.S. other than by police and other authorized people.

When Gallup first posed the question in 1959, 60 percent of Americans favored a ban.

Since 1975, the majority has opposed such action, with opposition of a ban about 70 percent in recent years.

When defending guns, Jerry McCrary, a 50-year-old gun advocate and relative of Wood, points to the Second Amendment before citing what he calls the merits of gun ownership: responsibility, respect and self-reliance.

"As far as I know, it's still a Constitutional right to bear arms," McCrary said.

McCrary said "it's a shame" the conversations about gun control and gun regulation come up so often, especially in an election year.

"If you take away guns from responsible citizens, only criminals will have weapons," he said.

From his perspective, the Constitutional right includes any firearm - automatics down to black powder.

The federal ban on assault weapons expired in 2004. Gun club members are welcome to practice with their semi-automatics, provided they comply with the rule against rapid fire.

"It's a bullet going through a chamber, going through a barrel," he said.

A new national study by Pew Research Center showed few Americans view the shooting in Aurora as a sign of broader social issues.

Pew's survey, conducted July 26 to 29, indicated that two-thirds of its group saw mass shootings, such as the one in the Colorado theater, as isolated acts by troubled people.

"The Colorado incident is a deranged individual," McCrary said. "The theater had posted 'no concealed hand guns,' but it didn't bother him one bit to walk past that sign."

Whether guns are banned, he said, if someone wants to cause harm to others, he or she will find a way to do it. If not by gun, then car, bomb or something else.

"He'd do something else to take lives," McCrary said. "He'd find some other means to cause havoc."

McCrary also said mental evaluations or criminal background checks would not have caught the gunman.

The club has a 20-year reputation for encouraging three types of shooting: hunt, sport and protection. The majority in South Texas is hunting, he said.

While the gun club licenses people to carry concealed handguns, if someone throws up a red flag, they can refuse to give a license, McCrary said.

Wood, the club's co-owner, thinks back on 20 years of service as a Marine when speaking about gun regulations.

Wood said the current U.S. regulations are effective and do not need to be changed.

U.S. gun rights regulations provide "a huge stabilizing force internally and externally," he said, by creating a balance of power.

"It needs controls on it just like everything else," Wood said.

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