One thing is for certain in Danville after President Obama’s speech about gun control Wednesday: People are in a rush to buy weapons out of fear their availability will be severely curtailed in the near future.
During his speech from the White House, Obama unveiled his $500 million plan to restrict the sale of some weapons and increase monitoring of purchases.
Lawmakers from around the country have weighed in, pro and con, about Obama’s plan, which includes mandatory background checks for all gun buyers, tougher penalties for those who lie on a background checks and stepped up gun violence research by the Centers for Disease Control, along with the ban of paramilitary assault rifles and large-capacity ammunition clips.
Danville Police Chief Tony Gray, however, declined to enter the debate, saying it is too early to comment on how stricter gun control measures might play out in the community.
But one gunshop owner in Danville believes Obama’s plan to ban assault weapons and high capacity clips is destined to become law, something he has “mixed feelings” about.
“The worst thing is that at the beginning they are controlling our guns,” Cook said Friday during a visit to his store. “If they stopped at (assault weapons), I¿think I could live with it and so could most Americans.
Cook said he fears there will be a snowball effect if the weapons are banned, leading to further government control of other guns and other personal freedoms.
“That’s what we’re afraid of,” he said.
Obama said that after last month’s mass killings of children at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. “Congress must act soon.” The country will be judged by how well we protect our children, “our first task as a society,” the president said.
Cook said he is truly sorry for what happened at Sandy Hook, but he believes government officials who favor tighter restrictions are using the tragedy to their advantage.
“I feel like the government is trying to use this incident in Connecticut to take away our guns,” Cook said.
In the meantime, Cook’s business has doubled, he said, adding that he’s probably sold about 250 guns in the past week.
“People are buying while they can because they’re afraid they won’t be able to later,” he said. “If they don’t make them anymore, then people will have to buy them from each other.”
Cook said customers are buying every type of gun, and sales are so brisk that manufacturers can’t keep up with the demand.
“Right now it’s anything and everything,” he said. “I can’t order from suppliers. They’re drained.”
One first-time customer at Cook’s, Robert Brasington, said he agreed with Cook’s assessment of the President’s plan for gun control.
“Everything he said was right,” said Hatton, a retired Lexington police officer from Harrodsburg who was perusing Cook’s remaining inventory. “I¿think they’re using it as a stepping stool. I¿don’t know what’s going to happen next.”