Gun Owners: RT Smoke N Gun Shop’s Michael Timlin

He shot his first gun when he was 6, and now the Mount Vernon business owner worries what the assault weapon ban will do to 90 percent of his store’s inventory.

Michael Timlin is the 42-year-old owner of RT Smoke N Gun Shop, a family-run business in Mount Vernon. “I remember shooting guns since I was six,” he says. Representatives from his store recently went on local television claiming that the NY SAFE Act will put his shop out of business, since 90 percent of his stock is now considered semiautomatic firearms and illegal as of this April (specifically, those with a capacity for more than seven rounds).

Let’s start by talking about gun owners in America. What rights do they have? Our Constitution states that we have the right, and no one should take that right away from you. And what governments do—and history indicates it—is they take your right away. And when they take your right away, it gives them the ability to do what they want to do. Where does it stop? If they make this assault weapon ban, and then some kid goes into the school and shoots everyone with a handgun—well, now we have the right to take away handguns, right? And what happens if a kid goes into the school, and he throws a firebomb into it? Are we going to ban fire?

You mention the assault weapon ban, which you are obviously against. What should the government be legislating for instead? We, as a human race, feel a need to answer tragedy. Sometimes, we have to just step back and say crazy is crazy and somebody sick is sick, and there is no answer to why and what he did, no matter what rules we put into place. 

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So the government shouldn’t try to do anything? In the last four or five days, I think there were upwards of fifteen million guns sold. Tomorrow, are we taking fifteen million guns away? Guns are part of our culture. If we look at the statistics on gun violence, it is so minimal. More people die from alcohol-related car accidents than guns any day of the week, but we still have people driving drunk. There is no ban on cars. It’s just an unanswerable situation that took place.

Fifteen million guns were sold in the week after the NY SAFE Act was passed. Is that normal? In two weeks’ time, everybody heard there was a ban coming. Everybody slaughtered the market. Demand outweighed the supply, and now it’s gone. 

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