Local gun shops not planning more restrictions

Kent County

KENTWOOD, Mich. (WOOD) — After two national retailers announced they are upping age restrictions on gun sales and limiting the types of guns they sell, local gun shops told 24 Hour News 8 they’re not making any such changes.

Walmart and Dick’s said Wednesday they won’t sell guns to anyone under the age of 21, with Walmart adding it also wouldn’t sell ammunition to anyone under that age. Dick’s also announced it would stop selling assault-style rifles. Walmart had already stopped selling AR-15s and semi-automatic weapons.

Local shop owners said they don’t feel it’s necessary for them to change the way they do business.

“You have to be 18 years old to buy anything that’s a rifle or a shotgun,” Sparta Sport Shop owner Garry Hosmer told 24 Hour News 8 Thursday.

He knows guns: He’s been selling them for nearly 50 years at his store. He said he’s not going modify anything about how he goes about doing it.

“As far as making changes, only if I’m told I have to,” he said.

Hosmer says he knows the laws, follows them and cracks down on anything that might seem suspicious when someone’s looking to buy a gun. That’s why he won’t make any restrictions beyond state and federal laws.

Walmart and Dick’s made their announcements two weeks after a former student opened fire inside a high school in Parkland, Florida, killing 17 people. He used an AR-15.

“You definitely don’t want to be the one that sells the gun that goes out in and be used in a situation like that,” Hosmer said. “I try to be very thorough on my forms that they fill out and everything so I usually don’t have any problems with them.”

But though some have said the move seems like a publicity stunt, Hosmer said he understands why the large corporations decided to change their policies.

“I believe this is America and their business, they can do what they want. If what they’re doing is legal, they should absolutely be allowed to do it,” Eric Haddad, the owner of Mr Gun Dealer along 28th Street in Kentwood, said.

He said that since the Florida shooting, he has seen a spike in sales.

“If you’re 18 and up you can buy most any long gun. That’s a barrel with over 16 inches,” Haddad explained.

That includes the AR-15. According to NBC News, the weapon has been used in six of the U.S.’s 10 deadliest shootings since 2012, including in Parkland.

Haddad is comfortable selling them to 18 year olds.

“To us, there’s no reason to change,” he said. “The problem to the stores that are staying with these regulations is not the few bad apples out there and so why punish all the good people out there and make them at the disadvantage to all the criminals that are going to get the guns anyway?”

Whether state or federal law will change anytime soon is unknown, but Gov. Rick Snyder told the Grand Rapids Rotary Club Thursday that the government will take action on a number of fronts to deal with school safety and keeping guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them.

He and a number of other governors recently went to Washington, where they met President Donald Trump at the White House. Guns and school safety were a main topic of conversation. Snyder said there is a role for everyone in finding solutions.

“This is a case where you’d hope the federal government could take a lead because it affects all of us,” Snyder said. “We’re all in the same boat as governors, but I think this is a case where hopefully, to the degree we see it going too slow at the federal level or other challenges, we can do smart things at the state level to address this question.”

Ultimately, he said, the best solutions will likely come where the feds and state work together, which he said he’ll work on in his final months in office.–24 Hour News 8 political reporter Rick Albin contributed to this report.

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