Wyoming gun shop vows to keep selling AR-15: ‘We’re not changing our policies’

Posted at 9:56 PM, Mar 01, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-01 22:42:59-05

WYOMING, Mich. -- This week, big name retail giants Walmart and Dick's Sporting Goods both announced they're making major changes to their selling of guns. This comes two weeks after the school shooting in Parkland, Fla.

Dick's Sporting Goods announced Wednesday they'll stop selling assault-style weapons and raise the minimum age to buy all guns to 21. Meanwhile, Walmart says it's raising the age to buy guns to 21 years old and will also remove toys and items that resemble assault-style rifles from their website.

Walmart hasn't sold AR-15's since 2015.

Silver Bullet Firearms in Wyoming sells all sorts of items, including AR-15's. The store has no plans on changing anything about their business and will continue to follow federal guidelines.

Mike Visser at Silver Bullet Firearms says the AR-15 is at the center of controversy, but also causes a lot of confusion.

"That's one of the big misconceptions out there," said Visser, lead instructor of the firearms training division at Silver Bullet. "A-R does not stand for assault rifle. It's Armalite rifle, the company that designed it back in the 1950s."

Visser also says the AR-15 is not truly an assault rifle.

"Technically the term that they're using for assault rifles, no we don't sell assault rifles, because the assault rifle true designation means being a truly automatic style of firearms for military use," said Visser. "We don't stock or sell fully automatic stuff. Everything that we sell back here are modern sporting rifles, meaning semi-automatic or one shot per press of the trigger."

Both Walmart and Dick's Sporting Goods are no longer selling AR-15's and also raise the minimum age to purchase all firearms 21 years old. Walmart stopped selling modern sporting rifles in 2015 and Dick's stopped selling them in 2012 after the Sandy Hook shooting, but they continued to sell them at their 35 Field and Stream stores. Now, they are pulling the weapons from all stores.

"We're not changing any of our business policies right now as far as what we're selling or who we're going to sell to," said Visser. "We're going by all the federal guidelines. Federal background checks are done on every firearm that we sell."

Visser also questions the companies' decisions, saying they're still selling similar firearms.

"The AR-15 is a more modern design so they look scary," said Visser. "It doesn't look like grandpa's hunting rifle which has just as much or more power than one of those rifles."

Visser says Silver Bullet has seen a small increase in the sales of AR-15's after tragedies like that in Parkland and also expects those who would purchase firearms at places like Dick's and Walmart to now flock to small businesses like Silver Bullet.

Visser hopes the government can get to the root of the problem with these mass shootings, which he says isn't guns.

"I'm trusting that our government will find some way to increase the checks for mental health," said Visser. "It's going to be really tricky because of HIPPA laws, going from the mental health treatments into what is reported to the FBI for background investigations. Those privacy laws are going to be the tricky part they'll have to work through.

President Donald Trump said he would be in favor of raising the age to buy firearms and also banning bump stocks, a device that simulates a fully-automatic weapon. Trump also said he'd be in favor of more stringent background checks for buyers.

Visser says most background checks only take a matter of minutes and don't usually show issues with mental health because of HIPPA laws.