Former Altoona City Councilwoman Judy Roberts comes from a law enforcement family.
Her father, son-in-law and nephew have been state troopers and her husband was in parole and probation.
So guns aren't alien to her.
But Friday's shootings on Juniata Valley Road in Frankstown Township and the recent mass shootings in Connecticut have Roberts up in arms over the most lethal guns and the popular culture that may ease reluctance to use them.
The handgun issue is "complicated," said Roberts, who works in a local shopping center.
But why do people need assault rifles? she asked.
Moreover, why do we accept the kind of media and entertainment fare that "desensitizes" people to violence, making it seem unreal? she asked.
The Geeseytown shootings created strong reactions among many like Roberts on Friday.
The National Rifle Association's take, that we need to put more guns in the hands of good people to control the bad ones, is absurd, she thinks.
How do you know who's good? she wondered.
"What, are you going to fill out a form?" she asked.
As society members, we're responsible for making the right kind of changes, Roberts said. "The buck stops with all of us," she said.
Jeff Detwiler, a liquor-distributor representative working in a local store Friday, shares Roberts' concern with desensitization.
Or maybe it's hyper-sensitization.
TV shows on crime and saturation media coverage of incidents like the Connecticut shootings can tip people with mental problems into wanting to be part of the action, Detwiler said.
They get "caught up," he said. "It's like reality TV for them," he said.
"They get a gun and go out and do it."
The recognition appeals to them, even if they know it's going to be posthumous, he said.
"Why else would they do it?" he asked.
"Better they just kill themselves to start with," he said.
It may not be coincidence that both the Connecticut shootings and the local shootings happened in December, said John Monnikendam, owner of J&L Curios.
"It's the time of the season," he said.
Tensions are up, spirits down, tempers short, he said.
The economy is unstable, and taxes are going up.
People fight for parking spaces, and they don't know whether to buy a Christmas gift for $20 or $100.
People blame it on the guns, but it's really more the "government not checking out if nutty people" can handle firearms, said Monnikendam, who was wearing a gun in a holster on his hip, as he clerked behind the counter.
Besides, guns used in crimes tend to be stolen or bought illegally, he said.
And ultimately you don't need a gun to do violence, anyway, he pointed out.
Cain and Abel didn't have a gun, he said.
The real problem is uncontrolled anger, and background checks aren't good enough to root that out, he said.
Since the Connecticut incident, gun holster orders have shot up, according to Billy McCabe, owner of a leather working shop in Altoona.
Conversely, the incident has supplied "ammo for the anti-gun nuts," he said.
He wishes society could figure out how to stop criminals without criminalizing guns, he said.
"It's not the guns' fault," said McCabe, who stood behind his counter with his wife, Katie.
A baby was sleeping in a crib along a back wall.
"We do what we [can] to keep ourselves safe," Billy said.
They recently got a letter from the school their 9-year-old attends, a reflection of concern about the Connecticut shooting.
"There's nothing you can really do," Katie said.
Maybe the idea the world was going to end this month put the shooters over the edge, said Jake Jones, an employee of a store in Eldorado.
"You don't know what's going on in these peoples' heads," he said.
Maybe the local shooting was a "copycat thing," said Caroline Roberts, a clerk at an Altoona store.
"It's happening too often," Caroline Roberts said. "I don't understand."
Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.