WITH VIDEO: When gun violence occurs, as it did when Jared Loughner allegedly opened fire at a Tucson grocery store in January, critically injuring U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and killing six, there comes a renewed concern over gun laws and safety. Many question the accessibility children and criminals have to guns and feel stricter gun laws should be put in place.
Randy Archbold, owner of The Shootist in Historic Downtown Murrieta, said he understands people's concerns, and said that some should not have access to guns. That is one of the reasons he holds a yearly parking lot event, which this year took place March 11-13. The open-house style event provided information on gun laws and safety, educating gun owners and prospective gun owners about proper usage, maintenance and storage.
It included providing education for children through the Eddie Eagle Program, funded by the Friends of the National Rifle Association. The program encourages children who see or find a firearm to "Stop, Don’t touch, Leave the Area and Find an Adult."
During the event, The Shootist also gave away free firearm locks. Twenty factory representatives were on hand to answer questions and give gun safety demonstrations.
Is gun violence preventable?
While Archbold recognizes people’s fears, he believes that it is not current gun laws--or those who abide by them--that are the problem; it’s the lack of enforcement and those who choose to evade the law.
“Gun laws only restrict the law-abiding citizens,” Archbold said. “If the laws were enforced it wouldn’t be easy [to get a gun]. They could make 100 more laws, but if they aren’t enforced or followed, they won’t work.”
Archbold goes on to say that a criminal by definition is someone who has broken a law. Therefore, if a criminal does not follow one law, he is likely to not follow another.
What are the laws, exactly?
According to Erin Archbold, an employee of The Shootist and Archbold's daughter, there are federal, state and sometimes localized laws to keep guns out of the hands of those deemed risky. These include passing a background check performed by the FBI, a 10-day wait period and a safety certification. The person must also show proof of residency in California.
For example, Penal Code sections 12021(d)(1), 12021.1 and sections 8100 or 8103 of the Welfare and Institutions Code state, “Any person who has been convicted of a felony, certain misdemeanors, certain firearm offenses, addicted to narcotics, a subject of a domestic violence restraining order or has been committed to a mental institution may not possess or have under his or her control any firearm.”
Erin went on to elaborate that even those with an expired license or unpaid parking tickets can be flagged by the Department of Justice and refused the purchase of a gun.
Safety is another major argument for those who are anti-gun; however, most of those who are pro-gun feel the same way.
“I think it’s healthy to know and understand how guns work, especially for children,” said Lake Elsinore resident Mary Westling, who was at the parking lot event on Sunday.
“You always hear about kids accidently shooting someone. [It's] the kids that don’t know anything about them are the ones that hurt people," Westling said.
Randy Archbold concurs and insists that while knowledge about guns and their safety is important, it’s not the guns themselves that are the problem.
“When something like what happened in Tucson happens, critics are quick to judge the gun laws and the safety of them,” Archbold said. “If [Jared Lee] Loughner had driven a car full of explosives, he could have killed 50 people, but would there be an outcry to ban all automobiles?” Archbold doesn’t think so.
There are no guarantees, yet many gun dealers, including Archbold, are careful whom they sell to.
“Not everyone should own a gun,” Archbold said. “There have been times when I haven’t sold a gun and notified law enforcement because I was suspicious of the person.”
Randy went on to say that when a shooting occurs, many discuss the signs and question if it could have been prevented. If no one reports a suspicion or the gun purchaser has no documented history of problems, there is no way to judge the future actions of a person, he said.
While this can be an unsettling notion, Murrieta residents may feel safer knowing firearm dealers like The Shootist aim to uphold the law and help prevent gun violence.