1. News

Tampa Bay gun shops say Obama's proposals won't work

Published Jan. 16, 2013

As President Obama urged Congress to pursue stricter gun measures such as an assault weapons ban and universal background checks, gun shops across Tampa Bay shared the same opinion.

The proposals won't work.

"It doesn't matter. The criminal doesn't care. Period," said Jason Myers, a salesman at Sure Survival, a gun shop in Tampa.

On Wednesday afternoon, Obama called for Congress to require a background check for every gun purchase nationwide.

"As many as 40 percent of all gun purchases are conducted without a background check," Obama said. "That's not safe, that's not smart, that's not fair to responsible gun buyers."

That number includes online purchases and sellers at gun shows, according to the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

The Suncoast Gun Show, which includes exhibits in Tampa, did not return calls for comment.

Obama also proposed the ban of all military-style assault weapons and a 10-round limit on magazines.

But Myers, also an NRA firearms instructor, called Obama's proposal "ludicrous."

"No matter what is done, it will not curb gun violence. If people want to commit gun violence, they will," Myers said.

The ban on assault weapons, he said, will only turn criminals toward other weapons. As for the background checks, Myers said, weapons that are stolen won't be affected.

"If you can't defend your home and your family, what's wrong with this country?" Myers said. "The criminals have more rights than we do."

Peter Weiss, manager of Arms for Defense in Clearwater, said he agreed with the president's recommendations for universal background checks, but said the assault weapon ban would hurt business.

"Sales will plummet," Weiss said. "I don't think it'll be good for the economy, and I don't think it'll help with the bad things that may or may not happen."

At the Shooting Sports range along Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa, general manager Shawn Penwell said the ban would do "virtually nothing" to curb criminals.

"They're going to find a way and they can do it," Penwell said. "Just as well or better with other tools available."

In Pinellas Park, Doug Jackson, owner of Bill Jackson's Shop for Adventure, agreed.

"It's a lot like a kid. You tell a small kid they can't have something," he said. "They want it."

In the short term, Jackson said, banning magazines and assault weapons will only drive up demand. His shop was sold out of assault weapons on Wednesday.

Throughout his speech, Obama referred to the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., where 20 children and six adults were killed.

"This is our first task as a society: keeping our children safe," Obama said.

But in the days following the Newtown shooting, Myers said more people signed up for his firearms classes, rising from about 10 students per week to nearly 45.

Keep up with Tampa Bay’s top headlines

Keep up with Tampa Bay’s top headlines

Subscribe to our free DayStarter newsletter

We’ll deliver the latest news and information you need to know every weekday morning.

You’re all signed up!

Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.

Explore all your options

Obama also asked Congress for funding to hire more school resource and police officers and implement emergency preparedness plans at schools.

"If there's even one thing we can do to reduce this violence, if there's even one life that can be saved," he said, "then we've got an obligation to try."

Laura C. Morel can be reached at or (813) 226-3386.