Efforts to denormalize and stigmatize gun ownership by pushing firearms retailers into the shadows are happening all across the country, including residents of a Connecticut town who object to a planned gun shop and a Louisiana parish that’s enacted new zoning restrictions on where stores can open.
We’re taking a closer look at these anti-2A campaigns on today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co, starting with the outpouring of opposition that Peter Estrada has received to his plans to add a small gun counter to his storefront firearms academy in North Haven, Connecticut. Estrada has operated Urban 2A from its current location for the past four years, apparently without incident, but that all changed when he submitted a zoning request that would allow him to sell firearms at the same spot he’s been training gun owners.
Estrada, a Hamden resident, said he has operated a firearms academy called Urban 2a from the site for about four years. He described his efforts as part of a broader goal to educate people of color from urban communities about their Second Amendment rights.
Having been in the industry for some time, he has come to expect opposition. And that’s exactly what happened after he submitted a change of use application to the town in the hopes of being allowed to sell firearms from the facility.
Did it ever. But while many of the objections were ostensibly centered around the location of Estrada’s business, ultimately they were about guns in general.
Concerned residents say the site, which is located at 140 Washington Ave., #16, is not appropriate for a gun store. Neighboring businesses include DJ’s Cards and Comics, Starbucks, Dunkin’, McDonald’s and Five Guys, which opponents argue attract families.
First Selectman Mike Freda also has come out against the proposal.
“I don’t support it at that particular location,” he said. “There’s a Dunkin’ Donuts there, there’s all kind of businesses there. There’s a park right around the corner, so I do not support it for those reasons.”
Freda has received multiple emails from residents with similar concerns, he said.
“People are absolutely opposed to it, like I am. The location is not good,” he said.
“In light of all the mass shootings that we’ve had recently, including today’s shooting in Louisville and (the March 27) shooting in Nashville, more guns coming into our streets is not the answer,” [Scott] Friedman said Monday, referring to the April 10 shooting at Old National Bank in Louisville and the March 27 shooting at the Covenant School in Nashville, both of which killed six people.
The location of the North Haven training facility “is in an area frequented by families,” said Friedman. “This is not the place for a gun shop.”
Amanda Gabriele, a North Haven resident, said guns are a “source of stress” for her, especially as a mother of two school-aged children.
“I’m not a big fan of the proliferation of guns and I think that are enough shops in the area to service people that would like guns,” Gabriele said.
First of all, the Dunkin, McDonalds, and Five Guys are more of a health risk to the residents of North Haven than Estrada’s proposed gun shop. But it’s also ridiculous to object to a gun shop opening up where families might visit. If those families don’t want to go inside the store, they don’t have to, but there’s no reason why a gun shop shouldn’t be allowed to operate in a general retail location instead of being shunted off to an industrial area or the outskirts of town.
Estrada’s request will be heard next month, and we’ll be keeping an eye on the situation in North Haven as well as Jefferson Parish, Louisiana; where even one supporter of the new zoning change barring gun shops from opening within 1,000 feet of a school says he expects to see it challenged in court.
Parish Council member Deano Bonano is a Republican who represents River Ridge. He proposed the legislation after last month’s news that a gun store planned a grand opening across the street from St. Matthew the Apostle Church and School. He says parents called him for three days straight to sound off.
The rule approved Wednesday will only affect new businesses. Bonano says this is not a gun reform issue. It’s a zoning issue.
“If you know me, you know I’m a huge supporter of the Second Amendment. I own a lot of guns myself,” Bonano said. “There are proper places to do things. We’re trying to prevent this from ever happening again.”
“While I feel like this law may be challenged, as a parish, we need to do something to send a message to our children, our parents, that we’re going to do everything we can to ensure their safety,” he said.
Trying to prevent what, exactly, from happening again? A heinous attack on a school like we saw in Nashville a couple of weeks ago? You’re not going to stop that by blocking gun shops from opening up in a particular location. I’m not aware of any active shooter that planned their attack based on the proximity to a gun store, and it’s utterly insane to claim that the zoning change is about public safety. I think Bonano was more honest when he said it was about “sending a message,” though I don’t think he really understands what message is being sent here. No criminal is going to be thwarted from carrying out their attack because Jefferson Parish has placed restrictions on where gun shops can open and operate.
Of course this is the same Jefferson Parish that suspended a 9-year-old child in 2020 (during the virtual learning phase of the pandemic) for picking up a BB gun from the floor of his bedroom and put it away so his brother didn’t trip over it because it violated the school district’s weapons policy. The zoning restriction isn’t the first bone-headed move on the part of parish officials, and I doubt it will be the last.
Gun ownership is a fundamental right exercised by tens of millions of Americans; a number that’s growing by the day. There’s nothing abnormal or unusual about it, and these attempts to denormalize gun ownership should be met with out outpouring of opposition every step of the way; from showing up at zoning board meetings to challenging these restrictions in court if need be. The war on gun shops isn’t going to stop any time soon, and gun owners need to defend their right to not just keep and bear arms, but acquire them as well.