Delaware gun shop owners react to Newtown tragedy as state ponders stricter gun laws

Gun shop dealers around Delaware are expressing their sorrow following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn. last week.

As news broke that a gunmen took the lives of 27 people, including 6-and 7-year-old children, Steele’s Gun Shop Owner, Charlie Steele, said it was too much to bear for some of his employees who have small children of their own.

“We had two suppliers that walked out,” said Steele who operates out of Lewes. “They just couldn’t do it – sell any more guns.”

Steele has owned the shop for 47 years and said the Newtown event is just as tragic for gun enthusiasts as anyone else.

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“Everyone in the industry is upset,” said Steele. “They’re horrified. Anyone who’s civilized, who’s got a brain, is horrified by it. Killing 5-year-old kids, it’s unconscionable, an action like that.”

Still, Steele and many gun dealers don’t think the weapons are the problem or that more regulation is the answer.

“He broke every gun law there is,” said Steele referring to 20-year-old Adam Lanza, the Sandy Hook shooter. According to reports, Lanza stole the guns from his mother who was licensed and legally registered to own and operate the weapons.

In New Castle, Shooters Supply Owner John Massey said he doesn’t see how more gun control would stop mentally unstable people from accessing weapons.

“You already have as many laws as you need on the book now, you need to enforce them,” said Massey, who has been in the gun dealing business for 25 years. “What you need is not the gun issue being taken care of, you need people to be taken care of.”

Both Massey and Steele carry and sell high capacity magazine ammunition, which gives shooters the ability to fire multiple shots in seconds. The idea of whether to regulate or ban such ammunition has been floating around amond lawmakers in the wake of the shooting.

“Over the years I’ve sold thousands upon thousands of magazines and ammunition so there’s more than enough to go around,” said Steele. “So to pass another law on high count magazines is not going to solve anything.”

Earlier this week, state Attorney General Beau Biden shared his support for reviewing current laws.  

“As a father, prosecutor, and veteran, it is clear to me that military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips which were designed for battle have no place in our communities.  Congress should act to reinstate the assault weapons ban and consider legislation to ban high-capacity ammunition clips.”

Revisiting gun laws isn’t just a Delaware issue. During President Obama’s speech to grieving Newtown community members on Sunday, he promised to host conversations “in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this.”

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