The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

February 16, 2013

In the gun debate, is there common ground?


John Greenough, a Lake Crystal farmer, steadies the semi-automatic handgun in his hand and rapidly fires 10 shots at a target about 20 feet down range. As he reels the target toward him, it’s clear Greenough is a crack shot. All 10 holes are within a few inches of each other and only one is partially outside the small target area. He’s been doing this for a long time.

In the firing lane to Greenough’s left is a retired teacher who doesn’t want to give his name because he is concerned about being the target of gun thieves. To Greenough’s right is Blue Earth County Commissioner Will Purvis, a former sheriff’s deputy. Jerry Cornish, a retired Amboy implement dealer who also happens to be lawmaker and gun advocate Tony Cornish’s brother, is in the lane beyond Purvis. They compare their hobby to bowling, billiards and throwing darts.

“We get together at noon on Thursdays in the winter to do some shooting for an hour,” Purvis said. “It’s just a fun way to pass the time.”

None of these shooting veterans likes the idea of any more restrictions on what types of firearms, ammunition or magazines can be purchased by law-abiding gun owners.

Banning high-capacity magazines won’t help because experienced shooters can swap one smaller magazine for another in a couple of seconds, Greenough said. Purvis points out Minnesota already leads the nation with its requirements for background checks.

“I’m pretty comfortable with the background checks Minnesota is doing,” Purvis said.

Bruels, who’s in the lobby pitching an idea for an assault rifle shooting day to Vantage Point owner Marie Borglum, compares banning certain guns to banning swimming pools. People who want to train for the Olympics can still practice in carefully controlled and regulated pools, he says. And the argument that people will still drown in lakes and rivers just proves his point, he said, because people will still be shot by criminals if everyone else is kept from owning guns.

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