The Death Toll From Mass Shootings Continues to Rise. These Local Moms Have Had Enough.

For some members of the Arlington chapter of Moms Demand Action, it's personal.

NOVA Armory. Photo by Thom Goertel

Shawn Poulin agrees that communication is important if citizens on all sides of the gun debate are to resolve their differences. As the owner of NOVA Armory, an Arlington gun shop near Fort Myer, he says he has invited members of the moms group to come see how gun sales happen. No one has taken him up on the offer yet.

A retired Marine Corps marksmanship instructor who lives in Ballston, Poulin, 47, disagrees with MDA on several key issues. And as a person of Native American and Central American heritage, he defies the white conservative gun owner stereotype.

“Their hearts are in the right place. But it’s radical,” he says of the group, which he runs into at community events.
Limiting magazine sizes—a policy position supported by MDA—is one approach Poulin views as ineffective. Gun owners wanting to buy larger magazines in states that forbid them can simply cross state lines, he says, noting that Marylanders flock to his shop to stock up on what they can’t buy at home. “That’s an example of how knee-jerk laws don’t work.”

He also takes issue with so-called “red flag” bills that would make it easier to deny or confiscate guns from someone whom a family member, friend or acquaintance has described to authorities as a danger to themselves or others. Gun dealers already have the discretion to turn down a potential buyer for just about any reason—“if you have a bad haircut”—Poulin says, though they most often do so because the would-be buyer smells of drugs, is intoxicated, or seems to be buying for a friend waiting in the parking lot.

Poulin sees the red flag measures as an overreach, worrying that a jilted lover or someone else with bad information could lodge false claims, causing a lawful owner to lose their Second Amendment rights. But he says he can also see the need for buyers to disclose more information about mental health. “Both sides need to come up with a solution,” he says.

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