Gun control advocates love to tout the supposed efficacy of “common sense” gun legislation that mandates universal background checks. But one gun shop owner in Ohio proved that there is no substitute for real common sense exercised by observant members of the gun community.
CBS News reports that John Downs, a gun shop owner in Hocking County, Ohio, refused to sell a gun to a suspicious looking customer, despite that fact that he passed a background check. Police believe that customer had planned to use the gun to take multiple lives.
“He kind of had his finger on the trigger like he was going to, you know, use it,” Downs said. “Just the look in his eye… there was something about him. I don’t know. You really can’t explain it. He was going to do something. He was going to do something.”
CBS reports that 25-year-old James Howard withdrew from his classes at Ohio University and allegedly assaulted an assistant hockey coach. He then drove 30 minutes to Downs’s Bait & Guns store and tried to purchase a rifle.
Howard left the shop when Downs refused to complete the purchase but returned later that day, at which point Downs locked the door and asked a customer to call 911.
Hocking County Sheriff’s deputies found Howard at a local Walmart. “When we arrived, he had almost 50 rounds of 20-gauge shot gun shell ammunition ready to purchase,” Sheriff Lanny North said. Sheriff Deputies also found a gun in the back seat of Howard’s car.
According to the Athens County prosecutor, Howard was able to pass the background check by allegedly making false statements on the form. He “was found in possession of a firearm while allegedly being drug dependent or in danger of becoming drug dependent.” Police also say he has a known history of mental illness.
Sheriff North believes Downs probably saved lives.
Downs represents the thousands of law-abiding gun owners who care deeply about keeping their firearms out of the hands of criminals. Downs also understands that—contrary to what anti-gunners would have you believe—gun shop owners have a moral and legal responsibility to prohibit sales to suspicious customers.
Hillary Clinton, for example, claims on her website that the gun industry has “unique immunity protection.” The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, she says, “prevents victims of gun violence from holding negligent manufacturers and dealers accountable for violence perpetrated with their guns.”
This is patently false. As Mr. Downs undoubtedly knew, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act expressly prohibits firearms dealers from selling a firearm “when the seller knows, or reasonably should know, the person to whom the product is supplied is likely to, and does, use the product in a manner involving unreasonable risk of physical injury to the person or others.”
The firearms industry does not have special immunity. They’re liable for negligence just like the car industry, the food industry, and every other economic sector, and Downs proves that they’re more than capable of shouldering this responsibility.
(Editor’s note: This article was a submission from freelance writer Jordan Michaels)