Straight Shootin': Returning fire to Gary Haynes

In the July 18-24, 2007, issue of The Rock River Times, Gary Haynes writes in his column he wouldn’t expect me, as an FFL (Federal Firearms Licensed) gun dealer, to NOT want a gun in the hands of every man, woman and child, including a 10-month-old baby! It is exactly this kind of reckless and inflammatory rhetoric that polarizes the debate on gun control.

I DO NOT want children, criminals, the mentally unstable, or anyone else who shouldn’t have a gun to have access to firearms, and I resent Haynes’ inference that I do. Nobody wants those people to have guns, and that is precisely why the NRA (National Rifle Association) and the vast majority of legitimate gun dealers overwhelmingly SUPPORT the Schumer-McCarthy NICS Improvement Act. That is why this legislation will become law.

It is the FFL gun dealers in America that use the NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System), and it is we who have pointed out the flaws in the NICS system, so we can improve it.

The gun industry is one of the most regulated in the United States, and well it should be. I have been checked out by the BATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms), the FBI, the state and local police and take great pains to comply with the maze of regulations because I genuinely want to do my best to ensure nobody who shouldn’t have a gun can get one.

Even if an NICS check comes back positive on a prospective gun buyer, it is my responsibility to look the guy in the eye and make the final determination about whether to transfer a gun to him. I take that responsibility very seriously, as I well know the consequences if a gun should fall into the wrong hands. FFL dealers are trained at spotting straw purchases and warning signs. On a number of occasions, I have declined to transfer a weapon to somebody for various reasons, if for no other reason than something just didn’t seem right.

I have sold many hundreds of guns, and I am proud to say I know of no gun that I have sold that has ever been used in a crime. One of the few things Mr. Haynes said in his column that I agree with was when he said “most guns used in crimes trace back to a relatively small number of bad apple dealers. Sixty percent of guns recovered in crimes turn out to have been purchased from 1 percent of the nation’s gun dealers.” There are a few bad apples in EVERY industry, and we do our best to weed them out, which that statistic clearly shows.

I will not debate Mr. Haynes about what our founding fathers’ intent was regarding the Second Amendment. Their intent was much debated and well documented (see my last column) and is crystal clear. The fact is, Mr. Haynes, whatever our founding fathers’ intent was, the Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the land, and the Second Amendment to the Constitution guarantees us “THE RIGHT TO KEEP AND BEAR ARMS.”

No individual, institution, municipality or state should be able to override the Constitution. That means Chicago should not be able to ban handgun sales, and Illinois, Wisconsin and Virginia Tech should not be able to outlaw concealed carry by honest, law-abiding citizens.

If it were any other amendment, the idea of selective enforcement would be inconceivable. What if freedom of speech were permitted everywhere but Ohio or Harvard? What if women had the right to vote everywhere but Wyoming and New York City? That simply would not be tolerated!

Mr. Haynes says killing somebody with a Chevy is different than killing somebody with a gun because the sole purpose of a gun is “to kill and to maim.” Not true, Mr. Haynes. The purpose of a gun can just as well be to protect us from and prevent violent crime—and statistics prove guns, in the hands of honest, law-abiding citizens, do just that.

Mr. Haynes is trying to reason that the object should be to blame the gun instead of the person who is using it illegally. That is why killing and maiming is illegal, and lawful gun ownership is not, Mr. Haynes.

Mr. Haynes contends strengthening our system of background checks would have saved 32 lives at Virginia Tech. Wrong again, Mr. Haynes. Passage of the Schumer-McCarthy NICS Improvement Act MAY have prevented Mr. Cho from purchasing his guns LEGALLY. It is clear that this deranged individual committed a premeditated act he had been planning for months. Anybody as determined and resourceful as Mr. Cho would surely have eventually obtained weapons ILLEGALLY, or found some other means of causing the destruction he was hell bent on creating.

Mr. Haynes says he is not anti-gun, just anti-nonsense. Saying a reputable FFL gun dealer wants a gun in the hands of a 10-month-old baby is NONSENSE, Mr. Haynes. While it is true that a 10-month-old did get a FOID (Firearm Owners Identification) card, of course, Haynes didn’t mention that at no time did the 10-month-old get, or could possibly have gotten, a gun.

Haynes also fails to establish any connection between that infant getting a FOID card and FFL dealers wanting babies to have guns because there obviously is no connection.

One of the reasons I so enjoy debating these bleeding-heart liberal gun control advocates is their arguments are illogical and don’t make any sense. Telling people that Schumer-McCarthy, or any other legislation, is going to keep them and their families safer is not only nonsense, but dangerous and very naive, Mr. Haynes. If somebody breaks down your door and comes after you in the middle of the night with a gun, are you going to ask him if he passed the NICS check to obtain his weapon? Not that it would make any difference, but I’ll bet he didn’t.

That is why Gary Haynes is the one talking nonsense, and owning a gun remains the surest way to defend yourself and keep your family safe.

Eric R. Sonnenberg is a Federal Firearms Licensed gun dealer who owns Forest City Firearms, 137 N. Chicago Ave., Rockford. He can be reached at (815) 262-4279 or via e-mail to

from the Aug 1-7, 2007, issue

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!