Gun supporters turn out for NRA field office opening
SALEM – Young gun enthusiast Richelle Hollenbach explained succinctly why she came to the grand opening of the NRA field office in Salem.
“I like to go hunting and fishing,” said the 10-year-old who is a self-described tomboy.
Richelle was among about 50 gun rights supporters on Sept. 14, including Craig County residents Lanier and Thecla Frantz of New Castle and Mike Murphy of Simmonsville.
The Frantzes and Murphy joked about an empty chair, holding it up for their own version of actor Clint Eastwood’s “talking to the empty chair” at the Republican National Convention when candidate Mitt Romney was nominated.
After pizza, subs and salad and a chance to meet each other, volunteers planned to take part in a phone bank for the NRA-Institute for Legislative Action, said NRA-ILA staffer Luke Cebula.
Richelle was at the National Rifle Association’s rented office on Main Street with her mom and dad, Denise and Eric, and other people who want to protect their gun rights.
Most said they were there because they want to protect their Second Amendment rights to bear arms, something they don’t believe President Barack Obama supports.
Richelle owns her own gun, a .22 caliber rifle, and shoots at the Blue Ridge Rifle Club in the Fincastle area.
The Northside girl was thrilled to receive an NRA camouflage-print towel. “I want it because my sister, Gail, who is 24, is at Ft. Huachuca in the Army.”
Early in the evening, Kathy Chandler of Salem talked with Adam McDearmon and other Roanoke College students who are members of the Student Firearms Association at the college. Cave Spring resident McDearmon is also president of the RC Republicans.
He explained the club that has 50 members promotes and defends gun rights and the Second Amendment.
“I’m planning on getting my mother a gun for her birthday,” McDearmon told Chandler.
Chandler is a facilitator for A Girl and A Gun Club, “an organization of women shooters. We take new and experienced shooters, and shoot recreationally at PPS indoor range in Roanoke on the second and fourth Monday of the month.” The group also takes field trips for outdoor shooting, she said.
“I’ve always felt women learn better with women,” said Chandler, who wore pearls with her jeans and sweater. “Our youngest member is 10 and our oldest, from Speedwell near Wytheville, is in her 60s or 70s.”
Volunteer Janet Corcoran of Mount Pleasant stayed busy making sure there were plenty of NRA buttons, stickers and other items, and then set out the food once it arrived.
“We are having a phone bank at our house on Sept. 22,” she said, adding that she is is involved with Americans for Prosperity, “A grass roots organization to keep everybody’s rights.”
Corcoran said she came from Scotland “42 years ago, legally. I’m not in favor of illegal immigrants.”
There were other children at the NRA opening. Jordan Todd, 7 months, and sister Brooklyn, almost 3, were with their parents, Robert and Rebecca Todd of Cave Spring, and the children’s grandparents, James and Patricia Janney, who also live in the Cave Spring area.
“We came to support Romney,” said James Janney. “If Obama can take this right to have guns away, he can take away others,” said Patricia Janney. “It’s what our nation was founded on and why change it now?”
On the sidewalk outside the office, Bill Lawson of Smith Mountain Lake was doing a survey for Strategic Allied polling company, asking “If the election were today, who would you vote for for president?”
Not surprisingly in an area that is predominantly Republican, the poll was running 20 for Romney and 4 for Obama after the first hour.