Gun store pushed out of location by activists

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

Owning and running a gun store sounds like a dream job for a lot of people. I mean, if you’re into guns, why not work with them? If you support private gun ownership, why not help people arm themselves?

Yet running a gun store comes with tons of challenges. There are the typical small business challenges of making payroll, covering expenses, and then hoping you have enough left to live off of. Then there’s the ATF compliance stuff, which seems to be getting worse.

And let’s be clear, if that’s all you had to deal with, it would be more than enough.

For one gun store, though, it wasn’t all they had to deal with.

Big Daddy Guns officials said in a press conference Wednesday they had no intention of leaving The Deck location in downtown Morgantown.

“Did we want to leave? No,” Sherri McKnight, co-owner of Big Daddy Guns, said.

Earlier this week, director of lease negotiations for Hardy World Logan Williams said both Big Daddy Guns and the real estate firm decided to “terminate” their lease agreement “after numerous discussions.”

The lease termination occurred about a week ago, according to McKnight.

McKnight and Big Daddy public relations coordinator Nicholas Lahera flew into Morgantown from Florida to speak to community members in person about the termination of their lease with Hardy World LLC.

According to Lahera, Big Daddy Guns never asked Hardy World to leave the location. He said the real estate firm was overwhelmed by calls from “a very small group of individuals.”

“To be very clear, Hardy World refused to turn over the keys to us,” Lahera said. “We did not ask them to leave. We did everything in our power not to leave.”

Big Daddy Guns has a number of locations, and this seems to be a unique situation.

Why?

Well, according to the activists who pressured Big Daddy’s landlord, it’s that the store is too close to schools.

One of Protect Morgantown’s biggest concerns with Big Daddy Guns’ potential location at the Deck was its close proximity to Morgantown High School, West Virginia University’s downtown campus and High Street.

That’s a BS argument, though, and we all know it.

Gun stores don’t sell to high school students. College students can generally travel to a gun store to purchase a firearm, so proximity to the school is irrelevant there as well.

So what’s this really about?

The answer is that people want gun stores out of sight. They want to associate gun stores with sinful activities. This is no different than trying to force any other undesirable business into certain parts of town. It just seems this time, all they’re able to do is keep them from re-upping their lease.

But I hope no gun store in town deludes themselves into thinking it can’t be them, because it can. Today, they’re after Big Daddy’s because it’s supposedly too close to schools. Next, it’ll be someone else for some other manufactured reason.

We’ve got to turn the tide on public perception because if we don’t, this kind of thing will become even more common.