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A gun took his son, now Rock Hill dad puzzled by NRA rally

If anybody would be a natural to want to attend the National Rifle Association's convention this week in Charlotte - or a Second Amendment rally Thursday in Fort Mill - Peter Krenn would seem to be that guy.

In 1998, Krenn's 16-year-old son, Erik, was dropping off a buddy on Rock Hill's South Jones Avenue when four guys carjacked Erik.

Erik was shot with a Saturday Night Special handgun, and died. Among them, the four scoundrels got 120 years in prison.

Certainly, Peter Krenn has spent the last dozen years carrying around a licensed pistol as he readied for a fight with villains, right?

Krenn will headline the York County Republican Party's rally at that Fort Mill church, right?

Or he'll go right up to that NRA convention and tell the public that they should arm themselves against the hordes aiming to take their guns and their rights, right?

Wrong.

Peter Krenn remains steadfast in 2010 - his 12th year as a man without a family, because cancer took his wife first, then bullets took his son five years later - that guns are part of the problem.

Not hunting guns, or sportsmen's guns - Krenn isn't worried about people deer hunting - but handguns and assault rifles.

The kinds of guns that are out there all the time, sold legally or stolen illegally, then used by someone to ruin another life or lives. Seemingly, not a week goes by in Krenn's city of Rock Hill that someone is not shot.

"The people who want everybody to have these guns, they probably haven't gone through what I have gone through," said Krenn, 63. "Everybody thinks they are John Wayne, maybe they watched too many movies. I think about the consequences of so many guns.

"Those consequences for handguns and assault rifles is, people get shot and they die. My son was one of them."

Krenn said the "proliferation of guns" into society has gotten so widespread, it might be too late to do anything about it.

B.J. Barrowclough, York County's deputy public defender, spends much of each day dealing with clients who are charged with violent offenses involving guns.

Legal or illegal, Barrowclough said, the gun culture is so widespread among young people - mainly men under age 25 - that the effects on this community and society are staggering.

"The proliferation of guns is not the answer," Barrowclough said. "It is actually the opposite. What we have is young people with access to guns who use them. That is a fact. I see it every day."

Krenn, a military veteran, trained with weapons, has one of the worst stories to share about guns. Yet he still does not wait at home with a loaded revolver. Nor does he carry a gun in his travels.

Krenn has visited 49 states on motorcycle trips. One of those trips was with Erik, before he was killed.

"I spend a lot of time in national parks, where there were never guns allowed before, and I was thankful for that," Krenn said. "You felt safe."

Krenn rarely brings up his son in conversation. When pressed, people rarely ask on after Krenn states he keeps no gun after what happened to Erik. People expect him to be pro-gun, which he is not. In fact, Krenn rarely talks about guns, or politics, or religion.

But on Thursday, that is what that political rally before the NRA convention will be - political candidates, talking about guns, at a church.

Barrowclough, the lawyer whose life is spent cleaning up the mess of gun use on people in robberies and killings, called the idea of holding a gun rally at a church devoted to Jesus Christ "appalling."

Krenn, the father of a dead son, just shook his head at the idea of a meeting to promote guns.

"I won't be there," Krenn said. "No Second Amendment rally before a gun rights convention at church for me."

Krenn will be home, where the memory of a son killed by a gun still lives.

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