Gun shop owner reacts to Dick's Sporting Goods policy change

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Dick's Sporting Goods, one of the nation's largest sports retailers, announced Wednesday it will no longer sell assault-style rifles, also referred to as modern sporting rifles.

The company said it already removed them from all stores, but will now remove the guns from all 35 Field and Stream stores as well.

This is in response to the Feb. 14 Parkland, Fla. high school shooting that left 17 people dead. Company officials said it sold a shotgun to the alleged gunman, Nikolas Cruz, in 2017, although it was not the gun he is said to have used in the shooting.

Dick's Sporting Goods also said it will no longer sell firearms to anyone under 21 years old, or sell high-capacity magazines. It will continue to not sell bump stocks that allow semi-automatic weapons to fire more rapidly.

The retailer believes this is their way of taking a stand and listening to the students and victims' families regarding gun violence in schools.

Robert Battista, the owner of 707 Gun Shop in Horry County, said there is a difference in assault-style rifles compared to other firearms. He showed a similar gun Cruz used in the shooting.

"It's an AR-15. It has a 30-round magazine in it and has an effective range of about 300 yards," Battista said.

As Battista was holding the firearm, he kept saying it's not the weapon that kills, but the person who is holding it.

"Fully automatic rifles have been legislated in this country since 1934," he said. "You cannot walk into a store and buy a fully automatic weapon. You have to go through a series of crime checks; you have to obtain a federal tax stamp from ATF."

Battista explained the "A" in an AR-15 stands for ArmaLite rifle, after the company that developed it. AR does not stand for assault rifle or automatic rifle.

According to Battista, there is a military and a civilian difference as well too.

"It's called an AR-15 in the civilian market, it's called an M-16 in the military. The military version is an assault rifle, it is fully automatic and what's called selective fire. They actually have an assault rifle, the civilian version is not. That's why they are called two different things," he said.

The exact same gun Cruz allegedly used also has a practical use for hunting, according to the store owner.

"It's the perfect round to go after coyotes. A lot of guys use them to hunt feral hog. When you go out for those two, you get as many as you can since it's a nuisance animal," Battista said. "Therefore you do want a larger capacity."

The question Battista has is why Dick's Sporting Goods is ending sales of one type of gun, but not another.

"Handguns are responsible for the majority of gun violence in America today, but you don't hear Dick's saying they aren't going to sell handguns," he said. "The survivors of the shooting in Florida say just because of our age doesn't mean you shouldn't listen to us, but then the first response is, 'Well, you aren't old enough to have a firearm,' that seems hypocritical."

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