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Local gun store owners see more customers

(Monica Maschak – mmaschak@shawmedia.com)
Barry Hulden (right), owner of H.B. Arms in Lakemoor, chats with customer Mike Krull about the gun debate sweeping the nation.

Local gun store owners said the president’s sweeping gun-control measures sent customers flooding into their stores, where ammunition continue to be in short supply.

“[My customers are] very upset,” said Dale Rueff, owner of Dale’s Guns in Marengo. “... I’m getting a lot of phone calls looking for items that are not even available.”

An ammunition shortage has plagued local gun store owners in recent months, Rueff said, especially since the shooting in Newtown, Conn. The elementary school shooting was the catalyst for President Barack Obama’s proposals for Congress and executive orders signed Wednesday.

The president called on Congress to ban military-style assault weapons – the ones used in the attacks at a school in Newtown and a movie theater in Aurora, Colo.

All that a ban on assault weapons would do, Rueff said, is put guns in the hands of criminals, not law-abiding citizens.

“Now the bad guy is going to have the large round magazine,” he said. “ ... The president wants us good guys limited to 10-round magazines.”

John Larimer was one of 12 people killed in the theater shooting in Colorado. Speaking from his Crystal Lake home, Larimer’s father, Scott, said he has yet to form an opinion on the president’s gun-control proposals.

John Larimer, 27, died protecting his girlfriend during a midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” in July. The Larimer family declined an invitation to attend the reopening today of the theater in Aurora.

The Larimers have been following court hearings for the accused shooter, James Holmes, and get regular updates from the prosecution.

“We need to get through dealing with this situation,” Scott Larimer said. “The next hearing is in March, and we’re wondering how that will come out.”

Obama’s proposals unveiled Wednesday mirror Clinton-era bans that expired in 2004.

The gun-control debate “has been going on for a lot longer, it’s been going on since the 1960s,” Scott Larimer said.

Local gun enthusiasts said they saw the writing on the wall after the shooting in Newtown.

“It doesn’t surprise me, and all it does is nothing – a bunch of nothing,” said Dan Laudick, the owner and chief instructor at Northwest Suburban and Tactical Training Center in McHenry. “Clinton tried this same feat back when he was in office, and it didn’t stop anybody from getting killed. All it did was make a bunch of people angry and guns more valuable.”

Not all of Obama’s proposals were resisted, however. Laudick and Rueff were supportive of the president’s call for enhanced background checks. Both submit background checks on gun purchases made at their stores.

Obama used his executive authority to increase the information available in data banks in the background check system. The president ordered federal agencies to make “relevant data” available to the federal background check system and to remove barriers that might prevent states from providing information, particularly mental health data, for background checks.

Caught in a web of privacy laws, background checks don’t adequately address whether someone is mentally ill, Laudick said.

But Illinois gun laws already address what gun-control supporters call the “gun show loophole.”

Barry Hulden owns H.B. Arms in Lakemoor and will be at a gun show Sunday in Crystal Lake. No one can attend the show and walk away with a weapon, he said. Gun shows here still need to comply with the background check laws same as retailers do.

“We have probably the strongest background checks in Illinois right now,” he said. “I don’t know if you could make it any tougher.”

Curbing gun violence should require a deeper look at the one holding the gun, Hulden said.

“I think you have to look at the source,” Hulden said. “We blame the gun, [but] the gun is the tool. Look at the real problem. Look at how many guns we have that never commit a crime because they’re legally in the hands of American citizens.”

• Northwest Herald reporter Joseph Bustos and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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