Marine veteran James Gates is learning the hard way that the Second Amendment is an unwelcome American tradition in the overwhelmingly liberal neighborhood of Arlington, Va.
Neighborhood residents started a petition last week protesting Gates’ planned opening of a gun and sporting goods store because it is located in a strip mall relatively close to a local school.
As it turns out, some residents seem to believe their disdain for the Second Amendment should trump the legal operation of a federally vetted gun dealer, according to a report in the Washington Times.
“We, the citizens of Arlington County, oppose a gun shop at this location,” the petition at Change.org reads. “It is unconscionable, in an era where our children are forced to practice ‘lock down’ drills designed to train them how to protect themselves from armed intruders, to locate a gun shop anywhere in the vicinity of schools.”
Right. Because would-be mass murderers are generally dissuaded by a slightly longer trek to their eventual target, right?
The petitioner’s alleged fear of criminals picking up weaponry before a local slaughter is a little unfounded. After all, it’s not as if Gates’ vetted shop will be operating without federal oversight.
Not only did Gates obtain all the usual federal permissions to operate as a gun dealer, but most of his clientele are military and police personnel in the Arlington and D.C. area.
But the liberals trying to bully the veteran out of their neighborhood are insistent that the store’s proximity to a local school creates valid reason to shut down the business.
“The fear of armed intruders permeates [student’s] education, and placing a shop that sells guns and/or ammunition within immediate distance of schools is confusing to students at best, and sparks fears of access to them at school at worst,” the petition states.
The irrational fear of a gun store in the same neighborhood as a school isn’t new, but it’s still absurd. Opposing the construction of a gun store near a school is like protesting the operation of a liquor store near a freeway. Sure, we might be concerned about drinking and driving, but forbidding the sale of booze near interstates won’t do much to fix the problem.
There are a number of precautions (including armed staff) that could help make local schools a safer environment for students; but shutting down responsible businesses isn’t one of them. (Besides, I’m sure those “no gun” signs on the school property will deter most would-be murderers. Right?)
So far, the petition targeting Gates’ business has collected over 1,700 signatures, and Gates is (rightfully) worried that the political pressure might cause his landlord, Kostas Kapasouris, to reconsider his lease.
“What worries me is that the landlord will be pressured to go against his word. We already have a lot invested into this new shop, we put new floors down, painted the walls, bought display cases. If we backed down we’d lose a ton,” Mr. Gates told the Washington Times.
Let’s just hope Mr. Kapasouris hasn’t signed the petition yet, because he has already demonstrated a willingness to cave to leftist bullies on the issue, telling a local television station that “the community is very upset” and he’s looking for a legal way to break the lease.
Gates has already tried to explain to his future neighbors that all sales within his store will be subjected to background checks, and that kids will not be welcomed customers. Even with his reassurances, federal oversight, and responsible business ethics, the liberals in Arlington aren’t prepared to let his business open without a fight.