LUMBERTON — A local gun dealer says business has been good since President Obama announced last week his plans to try to curb gun violence.
“People are afraid they will not be able to purchase this stuff later on,” said Tommy Bryant, owner of Bryant’s Gun and Pawn Shop, a business he has operated in Lumberton for 26 years. “Some are purchasing the guns and ammunition just to have it, while others are making purchases and then reselling it at two to three times its value.”
Bryant said he has seen more guns and more larger-than-10-round ammunition magazines purchased since Obama announced his recent gun-control recommendations. A couple of weeks ago, Bryant said his business was so busy he didn’t have time to speak with a reporter on a story on gun control.
Bryant is joined by Robeson County’s two congressmen and a local Second Amendment rights activist who all say the president is going too far in his recently proposed gun-control package.
“I think this is just a knee-jerk reaction to the tragedy in Connecticut,” said Jim Parker, a Lumberton resident who is a member of Grass Roots North Carolina, which advocates protection of an individual’s Second Amendment rights. “I think we need to slow down and look at the facts.”
Parker was referring to a gunman’s killing of 20 students and six adults last month at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. In response to the deaths, Obama has put forth a $500 million plan that marks the most comprehensive efforts to tighten gun laws in nearly two decades.
The president’s plan includes limiting ammunition magazines to 10 rounds or fewer, banning assault weapons and requiring those wishing to purchase guns to undergo universal background checks. The president has said that Congress is critical to tighter gun control, and action there is far from certain. The Republicans control the House, and Democrats who control the Senate aren’t ready to pledge immediate support.
Opponents of the plan, including Robeson County’s two congresmen, are adamant that an individual’s Second Amendment rights be protected.
“The president’s recommendation to restrict our Second Amendment rights is stunning in both its presumption and blatant disregard for the principles upon which our nation was founded,” said U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson, a Republican whose 8th District includes most of Robeson County. “Not only does enacting potentially unconstitutional measures in response to a tragic incident undermine the rights of every American, but we know these policies don’t work.
“The fact of the matter is, we cannot regulate people’s actions, no matter how much we attempt to regulate their freedoms. “Implementation of the president’s recommendations would disarm the average citizen and open ourselves up to continued acts of violence. We must focus on protecting our citizens and rectifying the root causes of such evil acts rather than enforcing hasty solutions.”
U.S Rep. Mike McIntyre, the Democrat representing the 7th District, agrees.
“I have always supported and will continue to support the rights of law-abiding citizens as spelled out in our Constitution and Bill of Rights, and that includes our Second Amendment right to bear arms,” McIntyre said. “We should all be concerned about violent crime and the culture of violence that has become all too prevalent in our society. We need to have a national dialogue to find better solutions to protect our citizens, especially our most vulnerable, while at the same time protecting and preserving our Constitutional rights.
“In addition, Congress also ought to consider the broader impact of violent entertainment in American culture, as well as the resources dedicated for school security and mental health services,” he said. “Rather than focusing on political divisions, we should work towards common-sense solutions that preserve all of our constitutional rights, make us safer and protect our citizens.”
Parker said guns are a crime deterrent, adding that there is plenty of information to show that with more people owning and carrying guns, “rapes, robberies and murders have gone down.”
“Criminals are not looking for a fight,” he said. “They don’t want resistance.”
Parker, who has a permit to carry a concealed weapon, said there are about 300,000 people in North Carolina who hold permits allowing them to carry concealed weapons.
“Millions across the country hold these permits,” he said. “Most of them are law-abiding people.”
Bryant said it is not usually weapons purchased legally that are involved in crimes. Guns involved in crimes, he said, are often stolen or have been purchased by one person for use by another.
Bryant told The Robesonian that although he thinks Obama has some good points, he does not think the president’s gun-control efforts are addressing the real problems, which aren’t caused by guns, he said. The problems are often with the mental state of individuals purchasing guns legally or with those who in one way or another obtain guns illegally.
Bryant quoted a comment that his son Josh wrote and put on Facebook the day of the Connecticut shootings:
“Let us remember that the tool which a person uses to do evil cannot be blamed for the devastation one carries out. It is within the heart of man that wickedness resides, and until we change our ways or our faith where it should be we will never see the end of violence.”