Weapons Check: New gun store, complete with semi-automatic firearms, slated to open in Marina
December 20, 2012
David Wasson quickly locks the glass door after leading us into a room full of guns.
It’s not to keep you from getting out, he explains, peering through the glass across the Marina business complex parking lot. It’s to keep anyone else from getting in.
Neatly arranged on several plastic tables are a range of firearms, from a sleek, black revolver, to the kind you need two hands to wield, like the semi-automatic AR-15 or the cowboy-like pump action shotgun.
Wasson, a portly, matter-of-fact man, wears a bright red t-shirt with the name of his company— 831Shooter—and a gray ball cap from a respected gun-training organization. If that—or his gun collection—doesn’t indicate something about his enthusiasm for guns, the tattoo on his right forearm brings it home. It’s the full text of the Second Amendment, complete with the date of ratification.
“To say I believe in the Second Amendment is an understatement,” he says.
Weekly photographer Nic Coury and I have come to talk to Wasson about the new gun store he plans on opening next week. Another time, the store may have opened without much attention. But not this week.
Yesterday there were at least nine funerals and wakes in Newtown, Connecticut, where a gunman shot his mother and then massacred 20 children and six adults last Friday before turning a weapon on himself. More funerals are planned through the weekend. Guns—once again—are the subject of national attention, and scrutiny.
I ask Wasson about the timing of his store’s opening. He’s waited 19 months to get his federal firearms license, which arrived today.
“What happened in Connecticut is unfortunate—I mean unfortunate is an understatement,” he says.
“It’s a good time to open a gun store.”
...Shall Not Be Infringed
Wasson has been an National Rifle Association-certified gun instructor since last year, when he formed 831Shooter. He started teaching classes in this room, connected to his other business, Wasson’s Construction, in April. So far he’s trained over 100 people.
Wasson is a strict believer in responsible gun ownership and firearm safety. In his classes he teaches the three C’s: Comfortable, Confident, and Capable.
“That applies to everything in life,” he says.
He takes guns seriously, and wants other people to take them seriously too.
“Would you give the keys of a car to a 16 year old and say, ‘Here go figure it out?’” he asks. “No that would be absurd.”
By the same token, he says, when you’re 18 you can buy a shotgun or a rifle without any firearms training.
“That is a little scary for me,” he says.
So, in the shadow of a national gun tragedy, why’s it a good time to open a gun store?
Demand, Wassons says.
People are worried about gun rights, and fear President Barack Obama’s administration will push for new restrictions. Since Obama took office, gun sales are up, stock prices in major gun companies are up, and the number of federally licensed retail gun dealers is increasing for the first time in two decades.
Following last week’s events, firearms sales are again skyrocketing.
Obama avoided the gun debate during his first term, but spurred by the Connecticut shooting, has announced that he will make gun control a “central issue” as he opens his next term.
Wasson doesn’t see the need for further regulation, though he says the laws already on the books should be enforced. He thinks one more won’t make a difference.
“What stops a bad person with a gun? A good person with a gun,” he says.
During the interview, Wasson asks that I print the entirety of the Second Amendment for readers.
“Your rights ‘shall not be infringed,’” he says, quoting a segment that is ingrained as much in his mind as it is inked on his arm.
Here it is:
“A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”
To Wasson, the ultimate price for infringing on the right to bear arms is the right to be free. “I believe in the right to defend ourselves— (from) anybody and everything.”
Look at history, he says. Governments overreach—it’s in their nature. That’s why the Founding Fathers made it the second amendment, not the fifteenth.
On his company’s Facebook page, there are quotes and memes that succinctly, and snarkily, sum up similar viewpoints. 100 out of 100 violent criminals support gun control, reads one picture depicting a masked man following a woman dangling her purse.
It’s not just crime Wasson’s worried about.
“It’s a scary world we live in,” Wasson says. “If the Second Amendment ever ceases to exist, I guarantee the First Amendment will not last very long without it.”