The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

December 17, 2012

Vendors: Gun restrictions not the answer

— Tighter gun-control legislation, while certainly on the horizon, will not solve the problem of mad men shooting unarmed people, according to several local dealers of guns or gun supplies.

Craig Brown of Craig’s Gun & Tactical of U.S. 72 East in Athens said Monday his shop has seen sales of semiautomatic guns and ammunition double since President Barack Obama was re-elected in November, then double again following the Dec. 14 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. He believes would-be gun buyers fear more restrictive gun legislation is coming because Obama —who has always supported gun control — has won re-election and because the mass shooting of 20 school children and six school employees shocked the nation.

Brown and other gun brokers expect sales of such weapons to continue to grow. He and several other area gun dealers and gun-supply sellers were contacted Monday by The News Courier. We asked if gun sales had increased since the mass shooting and whether they believed President Obama’s remarks Sunday alluding to greater control of semi-automatic weapons and ammunition would result in tighter gun laws.

Brown said he was not surprised by the move to restrict guns in the wake of the shooting. He said he understands why people are afraid. However, he doubts the problem of mass shootings can be solved with restrictions on the manufacture of additional semiautomatic guns. He noted that the Connecticut gunman obtained his guns from his mother, who he also fatally shot before attacking the school and killing himself.

Shooting hit home

As the husband of a Limestone County schoolteacher, Brown said he just asked the principal at his wife’s school if he could pay at least $50,000 to place one armed school-resource officer, or SRO, at her school, which he declined to name.

Brown believes armed officers are the way to stop violence like what occurred in Connecticut. Most counties, he said, probably cannot afford such officers. Limestone County high schools have had them since about 2000, Capt. Fred Sloss said.

Currently, the Limestone County Commission and the county schools split the $516,908 per year cost for the seven officers, which covers salaries, overtime, insurances, uniforms, fuel & lubricants, tires and tubes, repair and maintenance of motor vehicles and repair and maintenance of communications equipment, according to County Administrator Pam Ball.

Brown does favor enacting legislation that would allow law-enforcement to charge any gun owner who fails to secure his or her weapons and those weapons are stolen and used in a violent crime.

He also believes there are existing laws that would help keep guns out of the wrong hands.

“There are well over a billion guns in this country,” Brown said. “Many are smuggled in by people doing these shootings, not through legal means, anyway. The kid who did the shooting could have gone to any gun show to buy one. The majority of the sellers at those gun shows do not have federal firearms licenses. People can walk in and buy a gun with cash and leave.”

Brown also said that under the law, “You have a right to sell personal guns but if you buy a gun to make a profit, then you need a federal firearms license to sell it. What these people are doing is illegal, we are just not enforcing the law.”

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