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January 31. 2013 8:36PM

Rindge man plays a part in national gun control talks


Richard Feldman with President Ronald Reagan holding a Colt AR-15 given to him by Richard Feldman in June 1992 Rancho del Cielo, Santa Barbara, California. (Courtesy)


FELDMAN 

Days before Vice President Joe Biden sat down with a panel of experts to discuss gun control in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school shooting, Independent Firearm Owners Association President Richard Feldman was invited to the table.

Feldman said he and the IFOA support the right to bear arms, but say current laws need to be enforced and any new laws should be aimed at keeping guns away from criminals and the mentally ill without infringing on citizens' Second Amendment rights.

"We need more gun control, what does that means? I support gun control for criminals and the terminally mentally ill," he said Tuesday in Rindge before flying to Washington, D.C., to attend the Senate gun control hearings. "We're all in agreement in this country we all want to keep guns out of the hands of people that shouldn't have them and people who are crazy." But making it harder for everyone to get guns is not the solution.

"We talk around the problem; we use code words like gun show loophole and gun control," he said.

When he attended the Biden expert panel three weeks ago, he arrived with several talking points including enacting measures to prevent guns from getting into the hands of the mentally ill to restoring proper funding to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN), which traces guns used in crimes.

The federal database, which could be better at helping the ATF as well as law enforcement around the country, has been woefully underfunded for years, he said. The IFoA as well as NRA representatives also requested a national firearm safety awareness campaign, he said.

If Adam Lanza's mother had just followed that one rule - always keep your guns secured when not in use - the Newtown tragedy could have been prevented, he said.

Feldman said he is pleased his voice was heard at the table as well as with the new proposed $60 million budget for the NIBIN, which is double any previous budget request the ATF has made in the past.

Since sitting on the panel, Feldman has been going nonstop, flying between New York and California to appear on national news talk shows and giving interviews for Canadian and Australian media outlets in his in Rindge home.

This week, he returned to Washington, D.C., to attend Senate hearings regarding gun control.



mpierce@newstote.com





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