Guest Column: Response from a licensed gun dealer

This column is in response to the commentary by Stanley Campbell in the May 2-8 Rock River Times. I am an FFL (Federal Firearms Licensed) gun dealer and own and operate Forest City Firearms right here in Rockford. I can assure Mr. Campbell that no reputable licensed gun dealer takes any satisfaction in the tragedy that happened at Virginia Tech or considers it “good for business.” His assertion that the gun shop that sold Mr. Cho a firearm should proudly display a sign saying, “We supply mass murderers” is absurd, a cheap shot, and totally ignores the problem we should be focusing on. FFLs are the most patriotic and law-abiding group of people you will ever meet and abhor that kind of violent behavior as much as anybody. The Roanoke Gun Shop sold him the guns because he passed the NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System), and they had no reason not to. Contrary to Mr. Campbell’s belief that nobody was told who sold him the guns, it was widely reported it was this shop. Since Mr. Cho had legally been judged mentally ill, that information should have been in the system, but that is not the gun shop’s fault. A gun shop has no way of knowing Mr. Cho’s intent or that of any other maniac hell bent on causing this kind of destruction.

That is the point; there is no fool-proof way of preventing people that would do us harm from obtaining the means to cause that harm, be it a gun, knife, club, car or whatever. The point is, we are simply not safe from harm in this day and age, and no amount of anti-gun legislation or big government looking over your shoulder will make us safe. The tragedy in Virginia points out once again that you and your family are not safe ANYWHERE. You are not safe in your office at the top of the World Trade Center, not in the Federal Building in Oklahoma, your kid is not safe away at college or in Columbine High School, or even in a one-room Amish school house. You and your children are not even safe in your own home ANYWHERE in this country. Your child could be abducted right out of his bed whether you live in an affluent suburb in Utah or in a trailer in Florida. There once was a time in this country “back in the good old days” when you felt safe and could even leave your doors unlocked. Those days are gone FOREVER. You cannot count on building or campus security to protect you, or the local or state police to protect you. We live in a free society where people can pretty much come and go as they please (and who would want it any other way?). That means if the next guy coming around the corner harbors you ill will, you won’t have time to call the authorities. All they will be able to do for you is clean up the mess and file the reports after the fact.

As a responsible adult, YOU need to protect yourself and your family, and the best way to do that is to buy a gun and learn how to use it. Four of the victims in Virginia did have a Concealed Carry Permit but were not carrying a firearm because it was against university policy. If only one of the 32 innocent victims had the means to fight back, the outcome may have been very different. Because not one of them was armed, all they could do was cower helplessly while they were gunned down one by one.

Mr. Campbell calls me and my like “conservative gun nuts.” I do strongly support our Constitution (including the Second Amendment) and individual rights and responsibility. People need to take personal responsibility for their actions and be held accountable for them. There are a lot of bad people out there, but there are a lot more good people, and I have faith in them and trust them. I myself would rest much easier knowing that these good people had the means to defend themselves, so, unlike Mr. Campbell, I would not fear arguing with someone because I thought they might possess a firearm. Mr. Campbell and his left-wing liberals apparently don’t trust in the individual and continually try to legislate morality and get us to conform to their idea of how things should be.

Passing more anti-gun legislation and trying to make it harder for EVERYONE to obtain a firearm is simplistic and just not feasible. We have all seen the bumper sticker that says, “If you outlaw guns, only the outlaws will have guns,” but it’s true. The bad guys don’t give a hoot if Mr. Campbell and friends make it harder for an honest citizen to protect themselves. That would only make it easier for them to prey on their victims. If criminals can’t get guns legally, they will get them illegally. Denying the public the right to defend themselves is indefensible, and blaming legitimate gun dealers for gun violence is asinine, Stanley.

If a drunk mows someone down with a Chevy, would you blame the Chevrolet dealership that sold him the car?

Eric R. Sonnenberg is the owner of Forest City Firearms in Rockford.

from the May 16-22, 2007, issue

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