A Marines Corps veteran trying to open a gun shop in Arlington, Virginia, has drawn the ire of local residents who have drafted a petition to shutter the store, The Washington Times
James Gates, 28, and his business partner, Rachel Dresser, were preparing for their gun store’s August grand opening when local resident Susan Newton put together a petition, which has collected nearly 1,800 signatures, demanding that the property owner, Kostas Kapasouris, reverse course.
The petition states that the proposed venue — on the site of a former Curves gym in a strip mall — is within two blocks of a city school and close to others, according to the Times.
"It is unconscionable, in an era where our children are forced to practice 'lock down' drills designed to train them how to protect themselves from armed intruders, to locate a gun shop anywhere in the vicinity of schools," the petition reads.
"The fear of armed intruders permeates their education, and placing a shop that sells guns and/or ammunition within immediate distance of schools is confusing to students at best, and sparks fears of access to them at school at worst."
From 2004 to 2008, Gates served in the Marine Corps security forces and last year purchased Nova Firearms in nearby McLean, Virginia. Dresser handles the bookkeeping and inventory.
Gates' customers, most of whom are members of the intelligence community, the FBI and other federal law enforcement branches, according to the Times, repeatedly asked him to open a location closer to Washington, D.C.
In April, he signed a lease with Kapasouris to lease space that had been vacant for about a year. But when word got out that a gun shop was going in, the community balked.
Kapasouris, the Times reports, told a local news station that he’s trying to find a way to legally break the lease because "the community is very upset, and I don’t want the community to be upset."
Dresser and Gates have been shellshocked by the protestations. Dresser characterized the negative community response as "shooting first and then asking questions later."
"They really don’t know anything about the shop, what it’s going to be — or federal firearms laws for that matter," she said, adding that their clientele won’t be minors.
"Parents are worried their kids will hang out at the shop," she told the Times. "I’m sorry, but that’s not going to be the case. We’re going to have a sign on the door that says if you’re under 17, you can’t come in without a parent," she said. "We don’t want kids hanging out in our store either."
By 52 percent to 46 percent, the Pew Research Center
found in December that, for the first time in some 20 years, more Americans said that protecting gun rights was more important than controlling gun ownership.
Immediately following the December 2012 massacre of 20 schoolchildren and six staff at a Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school by a mentally ill man, more people favored gun control over gun owner rights, according to Pew, but attitudes began shifting in January 2013, when support for gun rights increased from 45 percent to 52 percent.
Experts offer a two-fold explanation for the changing trend: Republicans, who are fervent Second Amendment supporters, have become more vocal about gun rights during President Barack Obama’s two terms in office, and Americans’ perceptions about crime have changed, according to an April Pew report
"Over the past 25 years or so, there has been a divergence between American perceptions about crime and actual crime rates," the report states. "And those who worried about crime had favored stricter gun control; now, they tend to desire keeping the laws as they are or loosening gun control.
"In short, we are at a moment when most Americans believe crime rates are rising and when most believe gun ownership — not gun control — makes people safer."
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