The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Sandy Hook

December 19, 2012

At NRA museum, sadness and defiance mix

(Continued)

Once visitors swing open the glass doors, they can wander past hundreds of guns in sealed display cases. Big signs above the cases read: "American Classics," "Italian Masters" and "Handguns of Note."

The museum traces the history of guns from America's colonial days to the Persian Gulf War in the early 1990s. Some of the guns on display — semiautomatics and Sig Sauer pistols — are similar to those carried by Adam Lanza in the Connecticut shooting.

But most others are antiques from previous wars or rare collector's items with names such as "takedown rifle," or the gold-plated Colt Combat Commander pistol.

Only one exhibit highlights the criminal side of guns: "Wanted" posters for Osama Bin Laden, organized crime figure James "Whitey" Bulger and several other bad guys.

Absent, of course, is any mention of mass shootings or school rampages. (The museum's shrine to gun-centric Hollywood films includes a poster from the second "Dark Knight" Batman movie, an inadvertent reminder of this summer's shooting at a Colorado theater, where people were killed during a screening of the third in the trilogy, "The Dark Knight Rises.")

On Tuesday afternoon, a handful of people made their way to the museum, located off Interstate 66. NRA members and gun enthusiasts with their kids in tow expressed sadness and horror at Friday's shootings.

But they also hoped the NRA would not cave to any Obama administration attempt to pass new gun control measures. The real problem, they said, lies not with the proliferation of guns, but with ensuring that mentally ill people do not acquire them.

"The NRA better stand firm. They better stand firm," said Hal McGinnis, 46, a Houston engineer and Army veteran in town on business. "Any time people talk about banning any type of gun, it's a very slippery slope. What happens when they ban all AR-15s? Then someone does a shooting with a pump shotgun. Do we then ban pump shotguns? Then we can't have deer hunting."

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