Strong views on both sides of gun issue at Dick's Sporting Goods

rdymond@bradenton.comDecember 19, 2012 

MANATEE -- Dick's Sporting Goods' decision to suspend sales of some rifles nationwide after the shootings in Connecticut elicited strong reaction Tuesday on both sides of the gun issue at the company's store in Manatee County.

In a statement on its corporate website Tuesday, the sporting goods' company announced sales of "modern sporting rifles" will be suspended.

Bradenton's Mark Chapman, who owns 20 guns and calls himself "an avid gun enthusiast," thought Dick's decision to suspend sales of certain rifles was a knee-jerk reaction and doesn't support it.

"It still takes a finger on the trigger to pull it," Chapman said. "I never saw a gun alone kill someone."

Dick's decision, Chapman predicted, will only really create a scramble for guns and ammunition on line.

"Dick's can do what it wants, but I will still buy my guns somewhere else," Chapman said.

Chapman said he understands the outrage. He has a nephew, age 6, and a niece, age 10, in Pittsburgh.

"I thought of Ethan and Anna immediately after the shooting," Chapman said. "But my second thought was that we must find ways to lock down schools, not ban guns."

Five minutes before Chapman walked out of the store, perhaps never to come back, Palmetto's Anne Ray emerged from the store praising Dick's.

"I think I will shop here because of this decision," Ray said.

Ray was an elementary school teacher in New York state and believes there is absolutely no reason for people to have the kind of rifles Dick's has decided not to sell.

"My husband owns guns, but that being said, I don't think anyone needs an assault rifle," Ray said. "In my mind, those are strictly made to kill people, and having clips of over 10 rounds is ridiculous. If you can't get a deer in 10 shots, you shouldn't have a gun."

But Chapman argued that, instead of banning guns, beef up school security.

"I went to high school in rural York County, Pa., and they added a magnetic door system to my high school," Chapman said. "You could not pass until you were cleared."

But James and Shirley Razmus of Bradenton agreed with Ray in applauding Dick's decision to ban certain rifles.

"There is no reason for an automatic firearm with a large magazine and the ability to pierce armor except to kill people," Shirley Razmus said.

Richard Dymond, Herald law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411, ext. 6686.

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