The Sandy Hook Elementary shooting deaths in Connecticut have everyone in Suwanee and Gwinnett on edge and wondering just how safe they - and their children - really are.
The focus naturally turns to guns, and how to keep weapons from the hands of those who would kill the innocent and unarmed.
And it has put those who sell guns in the spotlight, including those retailers in Gwinnett.
Dick's Sporting Goods, which has over 500 stores in 44 states including Peachtree Corners and Buford (Mall of Georgia), sells rifles, shotguns and ammunition. Shortly after the Friday shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the company made an announcement that "out of respect for the victims and their families," it would remove all guns from sale and from display at its store nearest to Newtown, Conn.
"The company also made the decision to pull sporting rifles from all stores," said Ryan Carson, the store manager at the Peachtree Corners location. Other models of rifles and ammunition would still be available for purchase he said.
At the Norcross Gun Club and Range, also located in Peachtree Corners, owner Cara Workman said it would be business as usual.
"We continue to follow all state and local requirements," said Workman. Anyone coming into the store is required to complete a form that includes a background check that's run through NICS (the FBI's national instant criminal background check system), she said.
It's a thorough examination that will flag anyone who has "even an unpaid speeding, parking or other traffic ticket," she said.
The gun range sells handguns, rifles and both semi- and automatic-rifles. Chris Sterling, the general manager, said the store has no plans of removing the store's automatic rifles from the shelves.
"We're all sad about what happened in Connecticut," said Sterling, "but there are more people killed by drunk drivers every year. Are they going to outlaw alcohol to eliminate those kinds of deaths from happening?"
Walmart sells rifles and shotguns, but not at its Suwanee outlet.
According to a money.cnn.com posting, Walmart took down a listing on its website Monday for a semiautomatic assault rifle from the same maker as the Bushmaster AR-15, that was used by Lanza. In July, James Holmes used a similar semiautomatic rifle at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, to kill 12 people and injure 58 others.
David Tovar, a Wal-Mart spokesman, said the Bushmaster gun was not for sale online and the web listing contained directions for the nearest store where it could be purchased. The ad was pulled because of sensitivity to the Newtown massacre, Tovar said.
Similar assault rifles, including the Bushmaster, continue to be available for sale at over 1,200 Wal-Mart stores where guns are sold.
President Obama has vowed to get something done to ensure that a tragedy such as this would not occur again. Locally the Georgia General Assembly will face the issue of stricter gun control when it convenes in January.
But gun advocates quickly point out that "guns don't kill people, people kill." The National Riffle Association (NRA), a strong advocate of our 2nd Amendment rights, has been mostly silent since the shootings, issuing only a short statement that expressing sadness of the shootings and out of respect for the families who had lost loved ones would wait until later to make a public statement.
The NRA has been in the spotlight since the school shootings and is expected to hold a news conference on Friday regarding the call for stronger gun control and the possible ban of automatic weapons.
Suwanee Patch editor Steve Burns contributed to this report.
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