With national discussions focused on gun control and bans on weapons like assault rifles and high-capacity magazines, Union County stores that sell weapons have seen an increase in sales.
Tim Barnett, with Sure Shot Sports in Waxhaw, said this isn’t a new phenomenon. Gun sales typically jump when talks of banning weapons arise. But now, with so many people talking about a ban, Barnett said it’s difficult to find weapons with more customers looking to buy. When discussions of gun control started late last year, Barnett said assault rifles were at the forefront of purchases. But now customers are just trying to get their hands on any weapon they can.
Recent shootings in Newtown, Conn., Aurora, Colo., and other locations have politicians and policy makers in discussions about a solution to stop mass shootings. Some think stricter gun regulations will decrease the incidents, while others say having more people armed will lead to better self-defense.
“Nothing is more sad or tragic. I have seven grandchildren, 4 years old and younger, and my heart goes out to those families,” Rep. Robert Pittenger, who represents parts of Union County in the U.S. House of Representatives, said. “… What is concerning is when people grandstand an issue like (the shootings) in such a grievous concern. They want to try to ride what they perceive as a moral high ground.”
Pittenger said if there was proof bans on any kind of weapon lowered the amount of crime in any particular area, his opinion would be different. But for him, “when bad people want to do assorted things they find a way to do it.” According to Pittenger, restrictions of any kind in the past have not had any noticeable effect.
“We have banned drugs. They are illegal, but if people want cocaine they will find it,” he said.
Also, like many gun rights activists, Pittenger argues the Constitution and its right to bear arms should not be ignored.
“It was important to the founders and it’s presumptuous to go back and rewrite it,” he said. “People have a right to defend themselves against others who may attack them or whatever in their home.”
While many members of Congress agree with Pittenger’s opinion, there also are some leaders, like President Barack Obama, who feel more restrictions on weapons, particularly assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, will lower the frequency of mass shootings.
“Senators of both parties are working together on tough new laws to prevent anyone from buying guns for resale to criminals,” Obama said, according to prepared State of the Union remarks released to media outlets for his Tuesday, Feb. 12, speech. “Police chiefs are asking our help to get weapons of war and massive ammunition magazines off our streets, because they are tired of being outgunned.”
“Each of these proposals deserves a vote in Congress,” Obama added about gun control proposals. “If you want to vote no, that’s your choice. But these proposals deserve a vote. Because in the two months since Newtown, more than a thousand birthdays, graduations and anniversaries have been stolen from our lives by a bullet from a gun.”
Barnett says increased regulations could alter sales in the store, but says regardless, any changes to gun control laws wouldn’t solve the problem and lower incidents like the recent shootings.
“It would be stupid anyway. They’re not really wanting to tackle the problems, they are just wanting to impose gun control,” he said.
If Pittenger has his way, new gun regulations will not be what Congress focuses on – the focus will be on mental health issues and the “violent culture” many people in the United States are exposed to.
“We have serious mental health issues in our country,” he said. “We have a very serious climate of violence in the media and videogames, so many children are playing those violent video games and you wonder where they get these ideas.”
Regardless of where the conversation about stricter gun control leads, Pittenger said he will not be surprised if no results come from more regulation.
“I’m not one who is going to go jump on a politically correct wind and give a false hope that we can resolve this tragedy and cure it because every time we have done this there has been no real measurable outcome,” he said.