Gun Store Owners: Need More Enforcement, not New Legislation

Some Connecticut gun makers say they’re leaving the state over new gun rights legislation while other U.S. gun shop owners say lawmakers are missing the point on the issue.

After Connecticut passed its restrictive gun control law last week, one gun maker announced plans to leave the state for more gun-friendly territory.  And the issue was on the national stage Thursday, as the Senate voted 68-31 to open debate on proposed legislation that would expand background checks to gun shows and online purchases.

But some gun shop owners from across the country say they aren’t concerned about the potential reforms, as they already do background checks.

Al Dodson, the owner of Mulberry Gun and Pawn in Montgomery, AL says he has seen people that aren’t gun dealers get tables at gun shows and sell to “anyone and everyone.”

“Some are more honest, and ask for pistol licenses, which means that the buyer has at least been cleared, but some of these guys will just sell to the person with the biggest wad of money,” says Dodson.

Great Guns owner Cathy Peisert says expanding background checks would not affect her Missouri gun shop. She agrees with Dodson that background check loopholes should be closed at gun shows.

“You can say that it’s your own personal gun and sell it to whoever you want. If there’s a sale, a background check needs to be done,” says Peisert.

Alan Steel, owner of Steel Guns and Pawn in Idaho Falls, ID, says he already conducts background checks on every gun sold at his store. Steel says he doesn’t know if illegal sales are a problem at gun shows, but says “it’s a lot easier to buy something there.”

Steel says he doesn’t think any legislation would be strong enough to end gun violence.

“If someone wants a gun, they’re going to get a gun. They’ll find it elsewhere,” he says.

While he’s not worried about the current legislation, Steel says he feels lawmakers aren’t done yet, and that banning assault rifles and extended magazines would significantly affect his business. Lawrence Keane, a spokesman for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which represents gun manufacturers and vendors, is equally concerned – especially since the final text of the legislation is yet to be determined. Keane says it’s premature to say what the effect will be on gun store owners, and he’s concerned about potential burdens on registered retailers.

Keane also says an amendment that would ban modern sporting rifles and types of magazines would have a huge effect on shop owners, as well as on wildlife conservation funding, which is paid for by the excise tax on these types of weapons.

The gun store owners agree enforcement is more important than new legislation. Dodson, a former sheriff for nearly 30 years, says the ATF is overwhelmed and doesn’t have enough officers. He says there is often no follow-up when someone fails a background check.

Taking the matter into his own hands, Dodson says he will still deny a purchase to someone that passes a background check if he is worried about them handling a gun. Recently, Dodson says a customer came in inebriated and tried to buy a gun, but Dodson turned him down.

“He came in one week later to thank me,” says Dodson.