Reverberations from last week's school shooting in Connecticut are still being felt across the nation. The death of 20 children and six adults at the hands of a lone gunman has some reconsidering their stance on firearm usage in the United States and in the Commonwealth.
The shooting has motivated Virginia Sen. Janet Howell (D-Fairfax) to reintroduce a bill that would close the Commonwealth's gun show loophole, which can allow people to buy firearms at gun shows without a background check.
"It's tragic. I don't now whether I'm more angry or sad over it (the shooting)," said Howell. "I hope at this point we have reached a tipping point. One thing everyone agrees on is that access should be limited to keeping guns from mentally ill people and those with a history of violence."
The Sharp Shooters Small Arms Range in Springfield was packed on Tuesday afternoon. While the management would not comment, a number of customers defended their right to bear arms, and the decision to buy more in case of future regulations.
"I'm getting prepared. I will be buying more guns. That's just me and it's for me and mine," said Carey Boyd, of Landover, Md. "If we can't protect ourselves from someone coming into our home, then anyone can run in and do whatever they want… I don't trust the government. Big Brother can't have his hands on everything. A criminal is going to be a criminal with or without a gun."
Virginia resident Dickson K. said that mass shootings are not preventable. "You can't prevent it. But people have to be qualified to use weapons, and if you aren't, then you shouldn't be able to have one," he said. "It is a bad thing to ban weapons."
The manager of Sharp Shooters, earlier this year, told Patch: "The right to bear arms and protect myself is in the Constitution. Our founding fathers may not have been talking about automatic rifles with full magazines, but remember — guns don't kill people, people kill people," said the manager, who asked to remain anonymous. "My cigarettes kill people. Should they be banned? What about knives? They kill people. Should we ban kitchen knives?"
At Pawnbrokers of Alexandria, 7518 Richmond Highway, the retailer has seen a boost in gun sales since Friday. "Business has increased," said manager Tim Taylor. "Some people, once they see all that stuff on TV, they think that they won't be able to carry a gun, and they think a ban is coming."
Lawrence Reese, owner of the Sub Shop in Lorton, was shot four times in late 1989. At the time, Reese owned a candy store in New York City, and the robber came in shooting. Reese was hit in the head, the stomach, right arm and groin, and a female customer was shot in the leg, and the bullet passed through and hit her child.
"When I got laid out it didn't turn me against guns. It's impossible to really regulate guns in this country. They're a part of our society, and they're what the law presents us with," said Reese. "The police arrest you with a gun, pull you over with a gun, lock you up with his gun hanging off of his hip. And look at movies and television. We romanticize guns everywhere. We love gunplay, and this society is so complex that the answer is for us to focus on mental health."
Austin Manuel, a frequent customer of the Sub Shop, said he has had mixed feelings since the shooting. "It's tough to put the genie back in the bottle. You pass laws all you want, but there's still a bazillion guns out there," he said. "I just don't know how to grasp somebody shooting 20 first graders. I can't wrap my mind around it. How do we prevent something like what happened in Connecticut? Who knows. It's so evil and out of our norms."
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