Weatherford Democrat

Local News

December 27, 2012

Targeting firearms

Recent school shooting tragedy has some firearms sellers, proponents wary of new federal regulations

By SALLY SEXTON

Firearms have always been a hot topic of conversation.

But in the wake of the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn., some are taking aim on firearms and whether new regulations are needed.

“My father was a homicide victim through gun violence, but I also have children and grandchildren,” Bobby Whitehead, owner of Uncle Joe’s Pawn and Jewelry, said. “What disturbs me the most [about the shootings] is the way and how the media has taken this tragic event and is turning the issue completely around.”

The sales and availability of certain types of firearms – specifically so-called assault rifles – are being questioned by some as a result of recent mass killings in schools and other public places. In response to the events, many organizations and political figures, including the National Rifle Association, are speaking out.

Whitehead said there are more than 300 million firearms owned in the country, with around 45 percent to 47 percent of all households owning guns, the majority of those having more than one firearm.

Several locations in and around Weatherford have firearms for sale, including select pawn shops and large retail outlets such as the Weatherford and Hudson Oaks Walmarts.

Both Walmarts sell rifles and shotguns, but no handguns, to the public.

Weatherford Walmart sporting goods sales clerk Jerry Borden, who has been with the store almost 15 years, said there has been an increase in firearms sales within the last month.

“We’ve sold quite a few, but we always do every December,” he said. “That’s what a lot of people seem to buy for Christmas.”

Before a purchase is made, gun vendors, including both Walmart locations as well as pawn shops in the area, use the National Instant Criminal Background Check system.

Mandated by the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993 and launched in November of 1998 by the FBI, NICS is used by federal firearms licensees to instantly determine whether a prospective buyer is eligible to buy firearms or explosives. Prior to ringing up the sale, cashiers call in a check to the FBI or other designated agencies to insure the potential buyer has no criminal record or is ineligible to make a purchase.

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