Gun shop owner unsure how to stop senseless shootings
JANESVILLE When it comes to shooting sports, Dennis Garthwaite usually has a lot to say.
This week, the owner of Thunder Shooting Supplies in Milton was at a loss for words.
“I just don’t know,” he said shaking his head when asked what steps communities could take to prevent incidents such as the massacre Dec. 14 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
Atop a glass countertop in his small store on Front Street was a Bushmaster XM15. The weapon is similar to the one that authorities say Adam Lanza used when he killed 20 children and six teachers before shooting himself.
The military-style rifle has been a popular draw for shoppers. Many people want to buy one while they can in case laws are written banning the use or ownership of the weapons by members of the general public.
The Bushmaster is the No. 1 choice for coyote hunters, Garthwaite said. Hunters like it because it is light and can be used in many situations.
The weapon is versatile. The Bushmaster is a modular gun and can be changed to suit a variety of situations, said Garthwaite, who calls it “the small-block Chevy” of rifles.
By popping two pins, the barrel can be swapped for one better suited for hunting squirrels or another better suited for hunting deer, he said.
Gun owners also can choose different sizes of clips for the rifle. Instead of the 30-round clip that gives the gun the “scary military look” of an assault rifle, hunters can use 10-round clips that are flush with the rifle, he said.
“Everybody sees the military has them, and they think that’s all they’re good for,” he said.
Garthwaite said banning AR-15s for public use would not solve the problem of shootings such as the one in Newtown or the one in Aurora, Colo., in July.
“That (banning) doesn’t solve the problem,” Garthwaite said. “Criminals will always find a way to get guns.”
Garthwaite said he thinks teachers should carry concealed weapons as a deterrent to would-be shooters.
“These people, they’re shooting at places where there are no guns,” he said.