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Dealers Reluctant To Welcome New Gun Control Measures

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Now we're going to go inside a gun shop for a reaction to President Obama's speech. One of the things he said he wants is for commercial gun sellers to run background checks on their buyers and comply with other restrictions. You might think that licensed dealers who already have to comply might welcome such a directive. But as Frank Morris of member station KCUR reports, not so much.

FRANK MORRIS, BYLINE: At Centerfire Shooting Sports in Olathe, Kan., today, customers browsed racks of lethal-looking black rifles and semiautomatic handguns. But some, like Ginger Stiver, were more drawn by the colorful selection of conceal and carry handbags.

You're looking at the purses.

GINGER STIVER: I already picked out the purse, so I'll probably pick out the purse first and the gun - I don't know.

MORRIS: Stiver, who's middle aged and stylishly dressed, is from rural Stilwell, Kan., and says she's never shopped for a gun before.

STIVER: I never have. I never wanted one. I've never been anti-gun, but I was personally anti-gun, and now I've changed my mind.

MORRIS: Stiver says it was President Obama's gun control directive that finally pushed her to go gun shopping today.

STIVER: That's what's got me going. Any time a president's trying to take away our rights, that's scary.

MORRIS: President Obama says he's not trying to take anyone's rights and that the moves are commonsense efforts to tweak the gun control system, make it a little harder for criminals and those with mental illness to buy guns. In fact, Obama's face is right over Stiver's shoulder on a huge wall-mounted flat-screen TV broadcasting Fox News. One thing the president says he'll do is require unlicensed gun dealers to submit the names of buyers to the FBI for a background check. Most states don't require people selling guns informally or at gun shows to go to the trouble. But Jean Basore, the co-owner of this shop, says such checks are old hat for dealers already holding a federal firearms license, or FFL.

JEAN BASORE: With the background checks, we're a licensed FFL dealer, so we're already doing everything.

MORRIS: Basore does worry that casual gun owners could suddenly become illegal gun dealers in the eyes of the government.

Don Albrecht, a former FBI agent who teaches shooting here, says it's unclear who would fall under the licensing restriction.

DON ALBRECHT: You know, people trade guns left and right, you know, usually with friends and neighbors, relatives, that sort of thing. Now suddenly it's a federal crime. That's a bit scary.

MORRIS: But administration officials say the licensing requirement will be tailored only to people trading guns commercially. Though that's unlikely to assuage those to feel their Second Amendment rights are under attack. For NPR News, I'm Frank Morris in Kansas City. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Frank Morris has supervised the reporters in KCUR's newsroom since 1999. In addition to his managerial duties, Morris files regularly with National Public Radio. He’s covered everything from tornadoes to tax law for the network, in stories spanning eight states. His work has won dozens of awards, including four national Public Radio News Directors awards (PRNDIs) and several regional Edward R. Murrow awards. In 2012 he was honored to be named "Journalist of the Year" by the Heart of America Press Club.
Frank Morris
[Copyright 2024 NPR]

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