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Responsible Gun Store Owner Prevents Mayhem

Background checks are good, but alert store owners are even better.

Background checks don't catch everything, which is why this responsible gun shop owner listened to his instincts and refused to sell a gun to someone he suspected was going to use it against others.


James Howard passed a background check when attempting to buy a long gun last Monday, but sounded as if he might be planning to hurt himself or others, John Downs, owner of Downs Bait and Guns, told local TV station WSYX.

"I just said, you know what, bud, I have a really bad feeling about this. I just can't sell you the gun," Downs said.

The former Ohio University student and hockey player left the store angry, and later returned, according to Downs.

The store owner then turned off the shop’s “open” sign, told his customers to hide, loaded three guns, and called 911, he said.

Howard was later arrested at a nearby Wal-Mart while buying survival gear, CNN reports.

"From what I know of the circumstances, I believe he did prevent a mass shooting that was probably going to occur at (Ohio University) in Athens,” said Hocking County Sheriff's Office Sheriff Lanny North. “He had an enormous amount of ammunition he was going to purchase, shotgun shells and 22-caliber rifle ammunition.”

Kudos to Mr. Downs for listening to his instincts and doing the right thing. He probably prevented a terrible tragedy.

With that said, there has got to be a way to keep guns out of the hands of these guys on a more reliable basis than instinct. John Downs obviously gut-checked and realized he didn't want blood on his hands. But seriously, can't we put some gun laws in place that slow the process down or something?

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