The head of one of the largest gun stores in Orange County announced Friday that he will stop selling military assault weapons like the AK-47 rifle that was used to kill five elementary school pupils in Stockton.
Randy Garell, president of The Grant Boys store in Costa Mesa, said retail gun dealers must "wake up and face facts."
"It's about time someone takes a stand," said Garell, who also sells camping and outdoor gear. "The handwriting is on the wall that these types of weapons have little true purpose."
Garell, in a move that he expects will be criticized by other weapons dealers and owners, said he will cease selling all semiautomatic assault weapons at his Newport Boulevard store after his current inventory is exhausted. He added that he plans to contact local law enforcement agencies about purchasing the assault firearms he now has in stock.
Garell said he was "greatly disturbed" by the killings Tuesday in Stockton by Patrick Edward Purdy, an unemployed drifter armed with a Chinese-made AK-47 semiautomatic rifle and a handgun. He said his decision to discontinue sales was prompted by statements from Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl F. Gates and others calling for a statewide ban on several assault weapons.
Others include the Israeli-made Uzi and the U.S.-made AR-15, a semiautomatic version of the M-16 military weapon.
"Listening to Gates--a pretty conservative, pro-gun guy--you realize that these weapons don't belong in certain hands," said Garell, whose company has been in the gun sales business 40 years. "And to say that guns sold at legitimate stores don't find their way into the wrong hands is wishful thinking."
But Bob Kahn, owner of B&B Sales, one of Southern California's biggest gun retailers, said a ban on sales of semiautomatic rifles will do nothing "but improve the odds for criminals." Kahn, who last year sold more than 40,000 weapons through his North Hollywood and Westminster stores, said the problem is the court system, which allows "convicted criminals back on the street" too quickly.
Kahn said the bulk of individuals buying assault weapons are military veterans who like to have the weapons for reasons of "nostalgia" or recreational gun owners who like going to the desert to "shoot at cans."