News 12 First at Five / Monday, Jan. 7, 2012
APPLING, Ga. -- Congressman Barrow is back in town and wants to hear from you. Starting Monday, he's spending the week hosting town hall meetings throughout the district.
Robert Ritchie and his son showed up in Appling early this morning to meet the congressman.
"Shake his hand, look him in the eye and know that he's gonna go back and fight the good fight," Ritchie said.
He and dozens of others, as young as 9 years old, filled the room to ask questions and listen to the congressman speak.
"We covered everything from the state department to veterans problem. You name it, it was all-inclusive," said Thomas Turner, a constituent who attended the meeting.
It's all a part of his annual "Rural Listening Tour" of the 12th Congressional District.
"This is what I do every year at this time when Congress knocks off for a week at the beginning of the year," said Congressman Barrow. "Just because I haven't got anything to do in Washington doesn't mean there aren't any problems back home or folks to listen to back home. That's why I do this."
Monday's meeting was at the Columbia County Courthouse in Appling, but during his four-day tour, he'll be visiting 16 different counties in his district.
"Coming here like this, particularly at this hour, in this region, in this rural place, it shows a lot of commitment," Turner said.
Congressman Barrow answered questions from spending and Medicare to foreign aid and gun control.
"Unlike so many politicians, he actually seems to listen to both sides," Turner said.
Many were wondering if the congressman,endorsed by the NRA, had changed his stance on gun control after the tragedy in Sandy Hook.
But Barrow responded by saying, "The Constitution hasn't changed and the issues haven't changed. We've got three legs to this stool. We've got the issue of the culture, we've got the issue of access to guns and we've got the issue of how to deal with the folks who are mentally disturbed who are walking around amongst us."
He says the first two issues are backed by constitutional amendments, but it's the third that really needs the focus.
"We have to deal with the issue of the mentally disturbed among us and that seems to be the one area where we can make the most progress and we need to move forward," Barrow said.
That's what's important to Ritchie, making progress and moving forward on the issues that are most important to him and others who live in the district.
"We know that he's only one in 400 congressmen, and he can't do it by himself, but he can take our issue there," Ritchie said.
Barrow also visited Burke County and Jenkins County on Monday. On Tuesday he will be in Candler, Emanuel, Treutlan, Wheeler and Laurens counties.