Lance Burkholder, three-year president of the East Huntington Sportsmen’s Association, has held office through several mass shootings, including the most recent one Feb. 14 at Stonewall Douglas High School in Florida.
“People who commit these crimes are looking for an easy way to get attention. It’s a cowardly act, and that hurts how the public feels about organizations like ours,” said Burkholder, commenting on how these tragic events can directly affect how many people look at groups of responsible gun owners.
Those who own and use guns responsible may join the East Huntington Sportsmen’s Association, a club whose foremost goal is to promote safety, as well as educating the public. After every shooting of this nature, public opinion, often influenced by media coverage, turns towards gun clubs negatively, Burkholder said.
“It’s easy for shooters to be famous through social media,” Burkholder said. “Many of the shootings throughout history have been seeking fame.” As University of Alabama criminologist Adam Lankford describe it as these shootings crave attention, he added.
“Some school shooters succumb to terrible delusions of grandeur, and seek fame and glory through killing,” Lankford said in an interview with the Chicago Tribune. Such was the case with many of the famous school shootings, Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, and Parkland all held the media’s attention for weeks, satisfying the killers need for fame, he said.
According to Burkholder, this fact, as well as the quick dissemination of information on social media, often leads to public backlash on gun owners and gun clubs as a whole, while the majority of which are responsible gun owners. Through social media, after a shooting, everyone in the country will know the shooter’s name. Burkholder and Lankford pointed out that this is often the goal of a shooter: fame.
While organizations like the one Burkholder heads often receive some blame for events like Stonewall Douglas, they stand for quite the opposite.
“Our main goal is to provide a safe place for gun owners, as well as to promote safe gun ownership and to educate young people,” Bukholder said. He added that his organization helps “adults looking to learn more about guns.”
In addition to providing a resource for those looking to learn more about guns, the club also holds classes and tournaments for pistols, long guns, bows, and slingshots.
The East Huntington Sportsmans Association can be reached at: ehsportsmans.com.