Step Back in Time features news items from The Daily Star 25 and 50 years ago.
25 years ago
June 27, 1988
As Delaware County Undersheriff, Leonard Rutherford fights crime. He also belongs to the National Rifle Association, a tie that would be unusual in many parts of the nation, but not in this area.
In many urban areas, police and NRA members are at odds over plastic guns, which can elude detection at airports, and Teflon-coated bullets, which can pierce bullet-proof vests. Police would like to ban both technological advances, while NRA adherents feel the strictures would violate the right to bear arms.
According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, the NRA, long a political power in Washington, is losing ground. It is alienating police and other long-time supporters with extreme and sometimes inaccurate messages, such as the one that claims only three percent of rape attempts are successful when the victim is armed.
But locally, where many people are accustomed to guns, the NRA is still a strong force. Area members aren’t concerned with Teflon-coated bullets or plastic guns. They’re not worried about getting shot in the alley downtown. They just like to hunt, take target practice and collect guns.
Rutherford doesn’t want to ban handguns. You may as well ban cars or bathtubs because they kill, too, according to him. “It would be a violation of basic rights,” he said.
Police officers who do want to ban them tend to be in metropolitan areas and they are “not as enlightened,” said Rutherford. They didn’t grow up with guns and probably didn’t fire one until they got to police training, they said.
In fact, rural upstate New York seems to be comfortable with guns. While municipalities in New Jersey, Maryland and Illinois have created laws prohibiting handguns, here the NRA is holding strong. Local membership figures weren’t available from the NRA, which said there are 180,000 in New York state and 2.8 million nationally.