The parking lot outside the Boise Gun Company, a Garden City firearms and ammunition store, was full Wednesday afternoon. Inside, the store was packed with customers, making it difficult to navigate the aisles or even turn around without bumping into a patron or employee. Sales associates hurried between customers, apologizing for long wait times, but insisted that Wednesday was a slow business day and that sales had not increased at all following President Barack Obama’s morning press conference during which he revealed 23 executive orders proposed to curb gun violence in America, including steps to be taken to ban the sale of assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.
“I’ve been in a lot of gun stores,” said customer Mike Scuka. “I’ve never seen one this busy.”
Employees at Boise Gun Co. declined to comment on the president’s proposal.
In a plan advised by Vice President Joe Biden and based on what he called an “emerging consensus” among all interested parties, President Obama outlined a list of immediate actions to be taken. All 23 orders fell under one of four main goals for the proposal: closing background check loopholes and requiring mandatory background checks for all firearm sales, banning military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, making schools safer and improving mental health services.
According to Cindy Pratt-Carrell, manager of Impact Guns in Meridian, her store was much busier than usual all day Wednesday. She said she saw increased sales of both weapons and ammunition, motioning to the nearly bare shelves inside display cases. Because the store had been so busy, she was not yet aware of the details of the president’s proposal, but had heard what some of her customers had to say.
“(Customers) talk about the fear of not knowing what is going to happen,” she said. “That’s the biggest consistency—just the fear of the unknown.”
Pratt-Carrell also said that she fully supports the new requirements for more stringent background checks prior to purchasing a weapon.
“A firearm doesn’t leave our store without a background check,” she said, adding that her personal policy differs from the store’s in that she will only sell personal weapons to customers with concealed-carry permits because she knows they have been through rigorous background checks already.
However, Pratt-Carrell and many other Idahoans believe the answer to reducing gun violence is not restricting sales of weapons. Leroy Graham, a former police officer and employee at Impact Guns, draws on his experience attending Secret Service seminars on threat analysis during his time on the police force, when he said that banning any sort of weapon will not solve the problem of gun violence in America, and that the problem lies instead with the ease with which weapons can fall into the wrong hands.
“In most shooting cases, there is not handwriting on the wall,” he said. “There is huge graffiti on the wall that says these people are going to harm other people, and nobody does anything about it. I hope that the president’s initiatives take care of those kinds of people as well. We really like the president’s initiative to keep guns out of the hands of people that have proven that they’re a danger to themselves or others.”
Many Gem State lawmakers spoke out against the proposals, including Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch.
“The president’s proposal on gun control is very disappointing,” Crapo said in a statement. “Any discussion about restricting the constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans deserves, at minimum, a full and public debate in Congress. Burdening law-abiding citizens of this country with additional gun restrictions is not the answer to safeguarding the public from further attacks.”
Many customers in gun stores across the valley seemed to share the senator’s concern that President Obama’s proposal was made hastily and emotionally in the wake of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School Dec. 14. They voiced concerns that the executive actions proposed by the president will violate the government’s checks-and-balances system if they are implemented without congressional approval, and stressed the need for further discussion and careful development of new laws that will address the issue.
“If getting rid of guns would solve the problems and issues, I’d be all for it,” said Scuka as he browsed the firearms for sale on Boise Gun Co.’s shelves. “But it isn’t the solution. Guns aren’t the problem.”