Orlando Gun Shop Owner: Pulse Attack 'Had Nothing To Do With Guns'05:31
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Mark Villafane, owner of the Guns N Ammo Academy in Winter Park, Florida. (Peter O'Dowd/Here & Now)MoreCloseclosemore
Mark Villafane, owner of the Guns N Ammo Academy in Winter Park, Florida. (Peter O'Dowd/Here & Now)

Once again, a debate over guns is in full swing after the massacre in Orlando.

President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have called for tighter gun laws, including reinstating an expired ban on assault weapons.

“Weapons of war have no place on our streets,” Clinton told ABC News earlier this week.

The National Rifle Association said new restrictions would not have prevented the attack, and presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump, said today that he’d talk to the NRA about blocking suspected terrorists from buying guns – an effort that has so far failed in Congress.

On that topic, Mark Villafane agrees. He’s the owner of the Guns N Ammo training academy outside Orlando.

“How did this guy who was on the FBI watch list get access to buy a gun?" Villafane said. "If you can’t fly on a plane because of a watch list, you shouldn’t be able to buy a gun."

That question has renewed the debate on Capitol Hill and around the country.

In the debate over guns, this argument comes up a lot. Don’t blame the weapon. Blame the person who pulls the trigger; and certainly don’t blame the law-abiding gun owner.

The Orlando shooter had been investigated by the FBI, but he was taken off a terror watch list before passing the background checks that were legally required to buy a Glock 17 semi-automatic handgun and a Sig Sauer MCX rifle.

Inside the classroom where Villafane teaches a concealed weapon certification course, he said the Orlando shooting was a tragedy, “but had nothing to do with guns as much as 9/11 had nothing to do with planes.”

In the debate over guns, this argument comes up a lot. Don’t blame the weapon. Blame the person who pulls the trigger; and certainly don’t blame the law-abiding gun owner.

Villafane said if his 20-year-old twin daughters were in the night club the day of the attack, he’d be angry if they didn’t have a gun to protect themselves.

“It was a playground for evil,” he said.

The threat of gun violence so close to home has nudged people like Will Gonzales to act. He was shocked to learn that the shooter made more than one trip to a gun store to buy his weapons.

“That line of events, they should flag it,” said Gonzales, who works at an appliance shop next to Villafane’s training academy. “It’s put me on alert, because if I’m going to be out there I’m going to be protected.”

He said he’s applied for permit to carry a concealed weapon of his own.

Hear more of our Orlando shooting coverage

This segment aired on June 15, 2016.

Peter O'Dowd Twitter Senior Editor, Here & Now
Peter O’Dowd has a hand in most parts of NPR and WBUR's Here & Now — producing and overseeing segments, reporting stories and occasionally filling in as host. He came to Boston from KJZZ in Phoenix.

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