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Triggering Sales: Amherst gun shop owner sheds light on industry

Bob Bell, owner of Gunrunners (50 State Road 101A, Amherst), has a lot to say about the state of selling firearms after the nation and world has faced serious tragedies at the hands of someone with a gun.

“In the past, during the Obama administration, sales would increase almost immediately,” he said. “In the case of Sandy Hook, it became a panic. And that’s everywhere in the country, not just here. We almost completely sold out in the course of two weeks.”

Bell said that trend has shifted since Trump has been in office.

“It’s really, really curtailed sales after a crisis,” he continued. “Panic buying a firearm is never a good thing. Too many people who don’t know what they are, how they work, how to respect them and how to keep them safely out of the hands of these people who are causing these problems is not smart.”

And while sales are necessary to sustain a business, Bell said he’s rather not sell a firearm to the wrong person who doesn’t understand the responsibility of owning a weapon.

Bell added that the Brady law is actually hurts the American public.

Enacted in 1993, the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention act amended the Gun Control Act of 1968. The Brady Law imposes in interim measure of waiting a period of three days before a licensed importer, manufacturer or dealing may sell, deliver or transfer a handgun to an unlicensed individual.

“I know it’s not a popular thing to say,” Bell said. “But when we do a background check, there are one of three answers: proceed, which is easy to figure out, deny, also obvious, and delay. Delay means that they haven’t uncovered enough information to make a decision to proceed or deny the sale of a firearm.”

But with the Brady Law, Bell said if after three days he hasn’t heard back from the authorities, the decision to sell is up to the gun seller.

“Why?” Bell asked. “And there’s no liability to me – I can let the gun go out the door and if it ends up in the wrong hands it’s not my problem.”

“How can I know anything about this person who just walked in off the street?” Bell said.

“My store policy is if after three days you don’t get approved, you don’t’ get the gun,” he said. “Three days or not.”

Bell stated that a lot of people who know the law, will come in after three days and say, “I want my gun.”

“I say no,” Bell answered. “That doesn’t make me a popular person but it makes me feel better at the end of the day.”

Bell believes the Brady law should be repealed.

“The law should be instituted, where if three days isn’t enough, give them a week, give them ten days,” he said. “But give me a yes or no answer.”

Bell said in 99% of the cases of these mass shootings, the perpetrators have acquired the firearms legally, or taken them from someone who has acquired them legally.

“By legally, I’m saying that 99% of those times, it’s due to the Brady law where the gun shop owner says, ‘I’ve got to feed the family. This guy has money, he wants my gun, here you go.’ I’m not comfortable with that.”

Bell discussed the fact that when the government talks about enhanced background checks, everyone gets up in arms.

“They’re not infringing on your rights,” Bell clarified. “They’re trying to protect your rights because if you’re perfectly legal to buy a firearm, this will not affect you. It’s trying to keep the guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t own a gun.”

Bell noted there will always be someone industrious enough to find a way to get a gun.

“With enhanced background checks, they’re just trying to make them harder to pass,” he said. “Make them absolutely necessary. So, if you want to sell your gun to your brother, right now, you can just sell it to him and hand it to him. They’re saying ‘well, even if you know the person, there might be something that he’s done that you don’t know about.'”

As for why people are buying guns, Bell that changes from season to season and year to year.

“Right now, it’s mostly self-defense,” he said. “People are talking about what’s happening in the world. They want to protect themselves.”

Bell said there has also been in a slight increase in interest in modern sporting rifles.

“Those are misnamed as assault weapons,” he said. “Weapons don’t assault anything. People do. And people think they should buy that weapon now before the democrats take office and these types of weapons are off the market.”

Bell called this another bad scenario, saying, “this makes guns go out the door that shouldn’t because they end up in the hands of people who don’t know how to handle them.”

Ultimately, Bell said one gun is no more dangerous than another.

“There isn’t a gun in here that’s more dangerous than a kitchen knife or a hammer,” he said. “And way less dangerous than an automobile.”

A current study ranks New Hampshire No. 7 for retail gun sales per person in America in 2018. There were 100.1 sales per 100,000 people last year, marking a 72.1% increase since 2009.

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