Fearing for his store, embattled gun dealer sleeps there


Brutus, the shop dog at Engage Armaments poses with the Armatix iP1, a .22 caliber smart gun that has a safety interlock along with Andy Raymond (Photo by Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)

After word spread that his Rockville store would sell the nation’s first smart gun — infuriating gun rights activists who fear more regulation — Andy Raymond’s phone and e-mail inbox went absolutely berserk.

“The phone was ringing off the hook,” he said Friday morning in an interview.

That’s because gun rights advocates think the guns will be mandated. Electronic chips in the Armatix iP1 can communicate with a watch that can be bought separately. Then the gun cannot be fired without the watch.

Somebody told one of Raymond’s workers that the store, Engage Armament, wouldn’t be selling the gun because there wouldn’t be a store —  it will burn down. At another point, Raymond picked up the phone and said, “Hi, this is Andy. How can I help you?”

The caller said, “You’re the guys selling the smart gun?” Raymond tried to reason with him. But the caller said, “You’re gonna get what’s coming to you (expletive).”

Raymond took that as a death threat.

Even the store’s dog Brutus did not escape the vitriol.

Raymond was clearly shaken, and late Thursday night, he released a video saying he wouldn’t sell the gun and apologized for messing up. He also wrote a message on his Facebook page: “You call me and email me and threaten my life? You come at me, my girlfriend, or my god damned DOG I will put one in your dome. I promise you.”

And then he decided to sleep at the store. He stayed til 3 a.m., then went home, and then came back at 6 a.m. to stand guard.

“I thought what I was doing right,” he said. “I didn’t want my shop burned down. I didn’t think people would do that.”

He continued: “I can’t have my shop burned down. I don’t think somebody is gonna come shoot me, but somebody could burn down my shop while I’m not here.”

Raymond can’t believe the night he endured.

“I’m really sorry I got involved in all of this,” he said.

Michael Rosenwald is a reporter on the Post's local enterprise team. He writes about the intersection of technology, business and culture.
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