Ohio Gun Shop Owner Foils Mass Shooting

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)

About the author: S.H. Blannelberry is the News Editor of GunsAmerica.

{ 21 comments… add one }
  • Leonard June 24, 2016, 12:09 am

    So, he had “…a look in his eye…” and “… “was found in possession of a firearm while allegedly being drug dependent or in danger of becoming drug dependent.”. Is anyone NOT in danger of becoming “drug dependent” under the right circumstances? Buying 50 shotgun shells? What “untruth” was on his 4473? Did he claim not to be a user of illegal drugs? What exactly is he charged with, and why is his bail so high? Why does this have a hoax-like sound to the whole story–something beneficial to the cause of more “gun control”?

  • pete April 2, 2016, 5:10 pm

    So the guy did his job. Job well done. Not a whole lot of story here, other than it’s better when the folks who sell guns have some brains and reasonable judgement skills.

  • Steve April 1, 2016, 12:50 pm

    Great story, however…a resisted for possessing a gun “while being in danger of becoming” drug dependent? That’s a thing? What does that even mean? That seems like something that could be interpreted waaaaay to loosely by police/prosecutors.

  • James April 1, 2016, 11:37 am

    I work at a gun counter in a small-box hardware store in a small town. There was a well-known incident where a woman was suicidal – two husbands had committed suicide while married to her and recently her 14 year old son had killed himself with a Glock .40. A month or so later, a woman dressed all in black with black nail polish came in wanting to buy a Glock .40. I recognized her name, ran her background check (which she did pass) and while that was going on, I notified a couple of other co-workers who notified local law enforcement. I told her we had to wait a couple of days and by the time she left the store, the local sherrif’s office was on hand to pick her up.

  • Jay Young April 1, 2016, 10:11 am

    The same kind of fools who drew up those forms also drew up the Iran Nuclear Deal.

    • Jay Warren Clark April 1, 2016, 2:39 pm

      One, we are the only nation to have used a nuclear weapon–and we used it a) on civilians, and b) when the war was in effect over.
      Two, we have been constantly interfering with Iran’s internal affairs ever since we replaced their duly elected and moderate leader in a CIA led coup, and replaced him with the tyrant who took the title Shaw and who terrorized his own people for decades! Insofar it was our policies that created the extremists who took over in an “Islamic” revolution.
      Three, Iran has never interfered with out internal affairs with things such as murders of our scientists, and murderous boycotts, etc. and
      Four, I’m sure it there somewhere, but just where is that paragraph in the our Constitution (the true and definitive enumeration of America’s OPERATIONAL principles) that makes us the official World Police in a world where, oddly, “all men are created equal?”
      Lastly, if you take your images of Iran exclusively from our official corporate presses then you are in the position of having your opinions about that sovereign nation carefully scripted. Better to get your view balanced out by finding an alternative press that focuses on news of the so-called “Third World.”
      P.S. Sadam was our man because for one he was anti Communist and he got his “weapons of mass destruction” from us! But we heard almost nothing of this in the official news, eh?!
      So, what’s our policy? Well, we use them and then spit them out like so much garbage–that’s probably in the Constitution (or its preface the Declaration) somewhere I’d guess–though I just can’t remember where right now, maybe just after that enumerated “self evident truth” that “all men are created equal.”

      • Jeremiah April 1, 2016, 4:37 pm

        April Fool’s Day!

      • Dr. Jim L Davis April 1, 2016, 7:34 pm

        I am 81yrs old. I was 7yrs old when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. I don’t know where this idiot gets his information, but being alive at the time I can assure you the the 2nd World War was NOT essentially over when we dropped the Atomic Bomb. It took the second bomb to finally bring about a surrender. Considering the Fools lack of knowledge of history, it is fair to assume his “knowledge?” of Iran is just as faulty. Of coarse you have to expect this type thinking from a liberal.

        • BJG April 1, 2016, 8:49 pm

          You know it buddy. This guy sounds like a fool! Great comment. One thing, there were roughly 2 million Russians coming after them too.

        • E Meyer April 1, 2016, 10:41 pm

          You’d think, using such big words, his grammer would be a little better..

          • Gary February 23, 2018, 9:47 am

            He wasn’t writing a book, simply stating an opinion.
            There is always a Grammer cop around just when NO ONE needs one.
            I do not agree with what he said at all. I assume you don’t agree with him either?
            If that’s the case just say so! No need to try to embarrass someone because they don’t follow the Grammer rules like You Claim to do.
            People, IF You have an opinion to voice here, don’t let this jerk frighten you away just because you may feel that some jerk like this will insult you.
            Speak up people, and screw the Grammer police! If that’s the only option they have to add, let them keep it to themselves. If they can’t, at least WE can ignore them!

      • dc April 4, 2016, 10:07 pm

        I strongly disagree about you comment about the atomic bomb and Japan. The war was not over, and the battles in the Pacific Islands demonstrated that the entire population of Japan was poised to fight to the death or commit mass suicide. The estimates of the death toll to invade and conquer Japan was 1 million US soldiers! My father was at the southern hinge of the Bulge and his division was being prepped to invade Japan. He was overjoyed that the A bombs ended the war, and so am I. Study your history better before making comments about the A bomb and Japan, please.

        • Batman February 21, 2018, 2:22 pm

          You should pick up the book or watch the series “the untold history of the United States” produced and directed by Oliver Stone (A decorated Vietnam combat veteran who volunteered and was a infantryman).Your opinion may change.

      • Leonard June 24, 2016, 12:04 am

        Mr. Clark, have you tried Depakote or Seroquel?

      • Captain Bob November 4, 2016, 1:03 pm

        May I join the other folks who commented on Mr. Clark’s erroneous statements. His 1. (b) comment about the war being essentially over set the stage for “outing” the rest of his allegations. The U.S. was poised to ground invade Japan which would have resulted in the loss of an estimated several hundred thousand Allied soldiers lives. Truman’s use of the A-bomb saved those lives and MANY people alive today would not exist if their parents/grandparents had died in that invasion.
        Not sure if Mr. Clark is a troll or just vastly misinformed.

  • walt morris April 1, 2016, 8:43 am

    when you purchase a firearm the form you fill out asks if you are: an illegal, being investigated for criminal activity, a convicted felon, a drug addict, a terrorist….. You don’t suppose people might possibly lie when filling out that form? I wonder how much the attorneys who come up with these idiot forms were paid to put these forms together. we are supposed to be one of the best educated countries in the world but unfortunately our country is run by a bunch of idiots. too much time in the colleges where the longer you go to college the dumber you become. the liberals, socialists, communists run all of the ivy colleges in the country. it is no wonder our illustrious president is so intent on destroying our country as he has been surrounded all of his like by these liberals, socialists, communists–did I forget to mention LIARS.

    • Nfafan April 1, 2016, 8:52 am

      Walt; the forms were assembled back in the day when the expectation was that people were honest and good with their word, and, the Feds would actually prosecute. Funny times, those days.

      In our current deteriorating Roman Empire society of everyone wanting their 15mins of fame, and a politicized ATF – the recourse would hurt all of us honest folks.

  • Butch April 1, 2016, 8:27 am

    So, is Howard being charged with the CRIME of attempting to illegally buy a gun then?

  • Joe Cucchiara April 1, 2016, 7:26 am

    So…. If what the reporter stated that the man has a mental health history, how was it so easy to pass the required background check ?
    Somebody dropping the ball ?

  • Aaron March 29, 2016, 10:20 pm

    A forum on reddit occasionally is asked about denials. This isn’t the only firearm reseller who’s had to do this.

    I wonder about the delays. Who are these people? Lack of name uniqueness and putting in their serial number? I mean social security number? With a really common name and no toe tag number?

    I can see a delay happening.

    Civil rights activists have no place in this nation.

    It is unique that second amendment rights activists enjoy a safety that other rights activists don’t. Too bad that can’t see the light that human rights start at self defense – and end there.

    • Will Hymes April 1, 2016, 10:03 am

      It’s amazing that they don’t understand that there is no better way for a citizen to protect his/her civil rights than being able to protect them themselves. Out of the 10 things our founding fathers found to be sacred, untouchable rights it was the second most important because even 300 years ago they understood that no one could protect their rights better than the citizens themselves. In regards to the background check delay, my father and I have the same exact name, he’s the 2nd and I am the 3rd, and his background checks take no less than 5 hours and mine pass instantly. He has no criminal record whatsoever. He comically blames it on the fact that his birth place is Brooklyn, NY, but I wish we had a solid answer to why his have taken that long since his first gun purchase at the age of 21 (he’s now 56 and let’s say he’s done A LOT more than a few background checks in those years),

Leave a Comment

Send this to a friend