U.S. Rep. John Barrow, who famously brandished firearms in a re-election campaign ad last fall, hasn’t changed his perspective on gun control issues stirring renewed debate in Washington.
“No new laws will have a big chance of passing in the House,” the 12th District Democratic representative predicted during a town hall meeting with Columbia County constituents Monday at the Columbia County Courthouse in Appling.
Barrow said the emotional fallout from the Dec. 14 mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., doesn’t change the fact that the right to keep arms is grounded in the Constitution.
“There is a tendency on the part of both sides to react to an issue,” he said.
“But the Constitution has not changed.”
The three major “legs of the stool” in the gun debate include America’s gun culture, the traditionally open access to firearms, and dealing with the mentally ill.
Two of those matters are protected by the Constitution, he said.
“We have to deal with the issue of the mentally disturbed.”
In a 30-second campaign ad last fall, Barrow touted his endorsement from the National Rifle Association and showed a vintage revolver handed down from his grandfather, along with a rifle that he said his father once used to protect the family.
“These are my guns now and ain’t nobody going to take them away,” Barrow said in the ad.
Monday’s town hall meeting, which attracted about 40 people, was the first of 16 such gatherings Barrow scheduled to exchange ideas with voters in his district.
Topics ranged from the Sept. 11 U.S. Embassy attack in Benghazi, Libya, veterans benefits and an “out of control” Environmental Protection Agency, to payroll tax increases, reductions in Medicare and the dreaded “fiscal cliff.”
Responding to one question about how long the nation can survive on its spending track, Barrow said there is an urgency to rein in spending now to avoid harming future generations.
“We have about 20 years to get to the point where Greece is today,” he said, but added that the U.S. economy is generally more productive than societies like Greece, where economics are “eaten up” by socialism and liberalism.”