By Jonathon Chun
Clinton Country Chatter
The National Rifle Association had more than 4.5 million members as of February 2013, according to chief executive Wayne LaPierre. Earlier this month, the NRA held its annual convention in Nashville that saw nearly 80,000 people attend.
The NRA is widely considered to be one of the more influential powers that be in the political sphere.
“NRA support can be quite important in Republican primaries on in general elections in districts with substantial gun ownership,” said Dr. Matt Grossman, an associate professor of political science at Michigan State University.
With numerous presidential candidates having spoken at the NRA convention, gun enthusiasts and the general public — including those in Clinton County — were given an early look at how each candidate might impact gun restrictions, or lack thereof.
Gillroy’s Hardware is just one of the local gun shops located in St. Johns. Co-manager Brandon Temple once was a member of the NRA, but decided the annual fees were not worth the membership in the end.
“When you get up here north in to the country, it’s pretty much pro-gun everywhere you go,” Temple said. “Talking to my customers, Second Amendment rights are always a big issue. It’s what a lot of people in this area will vote based upon.”
While the county sheriff oversees the purchases of guns, County Clerk Diane Zuker has a slightly different task.
“We deal with the applications for individuals who want to carry a concealed weapon,” Zuker said.
While Zuker would not divulge the specific amount of Clinton County residents that have a permit to carry a concealed weapon, Temple knows it is enough to keep his business alive and healthy.
“It’s a huge gun area,” Temple said. “It’s basically Republican all the way around so we definitely do a really good business out of here.”
Temple and his customers will be following the upcoming presidential election, as will the NRA. With a new face destined to take the Oval Office, gun lovers need to know they have an ally in the right position.
For Temple, he is just glad President Barack Obama is nearing the end of his term.
“He’s definitely anti-gun all the way around,” Temple said. “When it came right down to it, even the Democrats wouldn’t side with him because of what he wanted to do with banning this and banning that.
“(Sandy Hook) was his moment to try to get everything passed. That was kind of what he was waiting for to really pound the gun laws and try to jam that down everybody’s throat when people were feeling sorry for the whole situation.”