Rep. Don Young, center, stands with a group of Ketchikan High School students who attended Young’s constituent meeting Tuesday in Borough Assembly chambers. Photo courtesy Rosie Roppel

Alaska’s Rep. Don Young was in Ketchikan this week, participating in a series of activities. He met with local officials, helped dedicate the shipyard assembly hall, answered questions during a constituent event, spoke with local media and addressed the Chamber of Commerce.

His self-proclaimed “ornery” attitude was in evidence, particularly during the constituent meeting.

Gun control was a recurring topic at Young’s town-hall-style meeting, with most speakers expressing concern about possible increased control measures. One speaker said that people are becoming fearful of the government, and the second amendment was under attack.

Young agreed. But, he says that gun control proposals likely won’t make it through the House, although he would be in favor of measures that address mental health problems.

To help prevent attacks on schools, like the recent deadly shooting rampage in Newtown, Connecticut, Young suggests that the government offer grants that would train teachers to better identify young people with mental health problems.

He also blames violent video games for causing some of those problems.

“Did you know last year that the rate of mental illness created by violent video games is huge?” he said. “It’s as addictive as cocaine. If you guys play those games, that’s the most violent stuff I’ve ever seen in my life. And some people spend hours and hours and hours, because the parents don’t want to get involved. And it actually crates a mental weakness and illness.”

Another speaker who identified himself as a veteran says he is worried that government enforcement personnel all have guns, but the public might be restricted.

Young again agreed. He says efforts to take guns away from citizens could lead the country in the wrong direction.

“How did Hitler take over Germany? He took the weapons away from the people. How did the Jewish people get put in those ovens? They had no weapons,” he said. “How did Stalin (kill) 15 million people in his own country? Because he took the weapons away. Well I have people say that would never happen in the United States. Well. Don’t take that for granted.”

Marco Torres, one of the Ketchikan High School seniors in the audience, argued that gun control measures don’t always lead to totalitarian states.

“The United Kingdom has a gun ban, Japan also has a similar gun ban,” he said. “Also noted, Australia requires anyone who possesses a weapon to register with the government for a specific purpose, and it has to be associated with hunting or sporting. Norway, which was rated the happiest country in the world by a report in Forbes, also has a similar means, where you have to register your gun. These are examples of democratic nations with gun regulations that certainly don’t inflate to totalitarianism.”

In response, Young says the countries Torres listed don’t have the Constitution, and don’t have the Second Amendment, so U.S. law doesn’t apply to them. He adds that

“The millions of weapons in households deters any concept of ever trying to take away what little freedoms we have left. Now, if you want to pick off the Second Amendment, we might want to pick off the First Amendment, and the Fourth Amendment, and all the other amendments.”

Young says the second amendment protects all the others.

Young departed Ketchikan Wednesday on his way to Sitka, then Juneau. KRBD will air additional stories about Young’s three-day visit to Ketchikan. Stay tuned for more reports.