Gun sales up with talk of regulation

National news sources are reporting increased gun sales in stores across the nation following recent tragic events and political tough talk that threatens to increase gun regulations. Like other gun stores across the country, CodeRed Tactical in Lovell is also seeing a “spike” in sales.

“There’s definitely a demand right now,” said the store’s owner Steve Allred. “I can’t put a number on it, but it’s enough to be noticeable.”

Allred said he’s seen increased interest in AR-style guns, high capacity magazines and pretty much all types of guns in recent weeks.

“We’re getting a rush of business from locals, out-of-towners and even out-of-state people,” said Allred.

Should guns be regulated?

“I’m adamantly opposed to any form of regulation of firearms,” said Big Horn County Sheriff Ken Blackburn. “This is our Second Amendment right, and I think if we head down that slippery slope of regulation, where will we stop?”

Blackburn said he thinks better background checks, including psychological profiles and criminal background checks, would be more effective than regulation that includes taking guns away from “law-abiding” gun owners.

Allred expressed a similar sentiment, citing the familiar adage “the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun.”

“What I’m trying to say is that we have to be careful about who has the guns, not about the guns,” said Blackburn. “In my opinion, a lock only keeps out the honest people. If someone twisted and demented wants to get hold of a gun or any kind of weapon they will. I think a well-armed public, especially a well-armed public that is educated, is the best defense we have.

Lovell Police Chief Nick Lewis, also a Second Amendment supporter, said he didn’t think a select group of highly trained “first responders” in the schools as suggested by the NRA and some politicians was necessarily a bad idea.

“They (the responders) would have to be willing and they would have to be carefully screened and very well trained for something like that,” said Lewis. “I’m not fatalistic, I’m just being realistic. I don’t think we can prevent someone from attempting the kind of violence in our schools or anywhere else like we’ve seen on the national news lately, but we can be prepared for it.”

How safe are our schools?

“We’re always thinking about anything we can do to make our schools safe and secure,” said Big Horn County School Dist. No. 2 Supt. Dan Coe. “It seems like since the Columbine incident there’s been increased awareness about school safety, and I think there have been some vast improvements since that incident. I think the biggest safety feature we have is our school resource officer program.”

Three districts in the county have school resource officers, who are trained police officers working within the school buildings in the county.

“I think we’re ahead of the curve in terms of having trained police officers who act as school resource officers in districts one, two and four,” said Blackburn. “This was something that was a high priority for me when I was first elected and it’s still a high priority.”

“School resource officers not only provide immediate security, but they also provide a great deal of preventive safety and security because you have that individual who is able to communicate with students, staff, parents and other members of the community about potential problems,” added Coe. “They keep track of all of that information and they can deal with it in a preventive way.”

Coe said he feels the response time of the school resource officer and other law enforcement officers in the Lovell community is very quick and he is confident that teachers are able to react quickly in ways that would block access to students just by barricading and locking doors.

Wyoming law does not allow for concealed carry of weapons on school campuses; it is a district’s board of trustees who would make any policy decisions regarding guns on campus should the law ever change, said Coe.

“If the state ever changed that law, each school board would have to take a look at it and decide if that is an option they want to consider,” explained Coe. “In the meantime, it’s kind of moot at this point, because it isn’t allowed at this time in Wyoming.”

Coe said he has heard about programs in other states, like the Guardian Program in Texas. Typically, those programs require special training and rigorous background checks, he noted.

“Obviously, if you’re not careful and trained to follow certain procedures you can cause more harm than good,” he said. “I think the best prevention is what we have right now with our school resource officers, who are in the buildings frequently. We also have other police officers patrolling the school zones and we are blessed that our three buildings are located very close together. In any kind of situation, our officers would respond very quickly. In the schools where I’ve seen those kinds of programs (armed teachers), there is a sense of urgency because of how far away law enforcement is from the school. That’s not the case in Lovell at all.”

By Patti Carpenter