Washington Secrets

Charlotte gun stores fret supplying Obama attacker

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Politics,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets,Columnists

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Charlotte gun stores, while opposing President Obama's effort to restore the assault weapons ban, are taking aggressive action to make sure that they don't inadvertently supply protestors or lone wolf attackers with weapons to disrupt the Democratic National Convention.

"We're from Charlotte and we don't want anything to happen here," said Larry Hyatt, of Hyatt Gun Shop, a big and popular supplier of guns and reloading equipment including gunpowder. "We're capitalists, but we do live here," he told Secrets in his sprawling and well-stocked store 2.5 miles away from the convention.

The convention presents two problems for local gun shops. One relates to internal security and the likelihood that police, focused on the convention, would be slow to respond to any robbery. Hyatt said that he has had to hire outside security to watch his shop.

The other issue is protecting against selling guns or ammo to would-be attackers.

"We've trained all of our employees to watch for any suspicious buying activity, including multiple gun sales and anything else out of the ordinary," the folksy Hyatt, whose store also specializes in antique weapons, even those used in the Civil War.

For example, would-be bomb makers buying gunpowder are asked about what they plan to do with it. "Like I'll ask what caliber are you using, and if they don't know I won't sell to them," he said.

Another worry is people buying several guns or "straw purchasers," those buying guns for others. "The straw sale is our biggest concern," said Hyatt. To fight that he has his staff look around the store and even in the parking lot to see if the real buyer is lingering.

But he has an advantage in his effort: His store has become popular with police from the dozens of departments from around the country helping out with convention security.

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