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Gun Shops Await New D.C. Rules
Dozens of gun stores are close to the District in Maryland and Virginia, as well as several ranges and training facilities.
Atlantic has another store in Rockville, where owner Stephen Schneider said he's not expecting a windfall once D.C. residents can legally buy handguns.
"It depends on how difficult the District government will make it for people to own handguns," he said. "If they set the bar 10 feet high and no one can jump through it, what's the point in trying to get one?"
His father, George Schneider, opened Atlantic Guns in 1950 on 14th Street NW in the District and relocated several years later. Stephen Schneider said he has no designs to reopen a store in the city, because he's not sure it would be profitable. He said it depends on the red tape involved. He has other concerns, too, including crime.
"At present, we don't plan on it," he said.
Dick Gilbert, owner of Gilbert Indoor Range in Rockville, said he does not intend to open a range in the District. At what is billed as the largest indoor range on the East Coast, Gilbert said he already has many clients who live and work in the District, including law enforcement officers.
"We focus our energies on training and safety," he said.
West of the District in Chantilly, Deborah Curtis, co-owner and general manager of Blue Ridge Arsenal, said her store is turning away D.C. residents who want to buy handguns.
"We got a call from someone who said they wanted to come out and buy a gun," Curtis said. "We said no. They can't buy here and then take it back across state lines."
She said her training classes might become more popular as more people want to buy guns.
"How are you going to learn to use it?" Curtis said. "What are you going to do if you have a gun and nowhere to shoot it?"
Her $125 course offers classroom training and an hour on the range. Blue Ridge provides eight kinds of handguns for students to try, from .22 caliber to .45 caliber.
She said a Glock is the most popular gun she sells to people making their first firearm purchase, because it's durable and easy to use. It costs $400 to $700.
"It's an indestructible piece of equipment," she said. "It's not real sensitive; it's more like a workhorse, like a Ford truck. It's one of those kind you can beat up and not worry about it."
Curtis said she's glad that the District's gun ban was overturned. She said the city was "trying to legislate morality."
But she said she sympathizes with Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) because there is so much gun violence in the city. About 80 percent of the District's homicide victims are killed by gunfire.
"I understand what he's trying to do," she said. "He's trying to save his city."