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Whitfield, Bechler Join Hundreds at Gun Show
By Bill Hughes
PADUCAH, KY - Paducah's Expo Center was quite busy Saturday as a huge crowd attended the Paducah Gun Show, and elected officials promised to withstand gun control efforts in the wake of the Newtown, CT shootings.

Over 500 people lined up all the way to the nearby floodwall waiting for the doors to open at 9 am, and the line continued to grow even after the doors opened. Vendors had steady lines streaming past their tables full of guns, ammo, knives and accessories.

U.S. Congressman Ed Whitfield and State Representative Lynn Bechler spoke to the gun owners and vendors over the building's PA system. Both reassured patrons that they would do whatever they can to protect every citizen's 2nd amendment rights.

Whitfield spoke first, and encouraged anyone who was not a member of the National Rifle Association to join. He said 2nd amendment rights are under threat, and that President Obama will soon be using taxpayer money budgeted for agencies like the Centers for Disease Control against gun owners. Whitfield said those agencies will fund outside groups to do research, and then publicize results showing that gun rights should be diminished, in an attempt to sway public opinion and get laws passed.

"So, we really are under threat today, and it's essential that we all stand together, and I can tell you that at least in the House of Representatives in Washington, D.C., we're going to do everything that we can do to counter and stop President Obama's efforts to take away our rights and freedoms," Whitfield said. Everyone in the Expo Center broke into applause before he could finish this statement. 

Bechler told the crowd that as a member of the NRA and Gun Owners of America, he will work to make sure the state legislature is doing what it can to protect gun owners in the Commonwealth.

Whitfield said this is the first gun show he's been to recently, but he was not surprised by the crowd, after hearing reports about other gun shows. Asked if some gun-control advocates would call these crowds a panic response, Whitfield replied, "You can call it whatever you want to, but there's genuine concern out here that this President and this administration are going to be taking steps to significantly change gun control laws in America."

The president has asked Congress to act so gun violence can be reduced. He's asking lawmakers to pass an assault-weapons ban, universal background checks and limits on high-capacity ammunition magazines. In the meantime, he's taking steps right away with some executive orders.

Regarding the executive orders, Whitfield said, "The House of Representatives, we can reverse any of these executive orders, unfortunately, that won't happen in the Senate. So the only recourse that we have available, really, is for groups like the NRA and others to file lawsuits if they believe that his executive orders are unconstitutional or violate some federal law. So, I think you're gonna see a lot of lawsuits."

Bechler says on the state side of things, there is some homework to be done.

"I think we can look at what laws are currently on the books, take a look at other state laws, and the least we can do is start a conversation in the state about what laws we should have on the books," Bechler said.

He added that there may be some conflict between state laws and new federal laws, if passed. However, Kentuckians would still have their 2nd Amendment and 10th Amendment rights.

"I'm hopeful that we can pass something that will assure that there's not a question about our 2nd amendment rights in Kentucky," Bechler said.

Vendor Bob Wurth is selling part of his personal collection at the show. Since he isn't a gun dealer, he doesn't have to do background checks on buyers, at least for now. Potential new laws could change all that, and might be more trouble than it's worth for these gun enthusiasts, causing them to stop coming to shows. He said he looks potential buyers in the eye and asks them if they have a criminal history, and can tell alot from how people react, regardless of their eventual answer.

One shopper, who has worked in law enforcement, said, "I have one question for President Obama: 'If we could save one life by giving everyone a gun, wouldn't it be worth it?'"

Dan Leatherwood, an NRA volunteer from Murray, started selling year-long memberships and giving away caps at 9:00 am, and by 1:30 pm, he was out of membership forms.  

Published 02:53 PM, Saturday Jan. 19, 2013
Updated 07:39 AM, Tuesday Jan. 22, 2013

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