South Florida News Service recently conducted a survey of federally licensed gun dealers and pawn shops in South Florida and found similarities and differences in their answers.
The area’s two most populous counties were split on whether the age to purchase firearms should be raised to 21. Broward County was largely in favor of such legislation, while Miami-Dade County gun dealers and pawnshop owners were mostly against the idea and instead favored arming teachers. Gun-related businesses in both counties agreed additional mental health services were appropriate. (Read the full results here.)
Once results were gathered, SFNS conducted a follow-up to further explore South Florida gun sellers’ opinions.
We spoke with two members of the gun industry: NRA-certified arms instructor Frank Benvenuto and Morti Adika, owner of MASA Firearms in Coral Springs.
Both men reported an increase in business since the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas Senior High School.
It’s been crazy,” Adika said. “However, business does go up every time there is a shooting or any political issue that occurs.”
Benvenuto said people are buying the ability to protect themselves every time the government tries to take away their Second Amendment rights.
“Every time the government wants to limit firearms, there’s a record surge in background checks and people buying arms,” he said. “You cannot make people sitting ducks and not be able to protect themselves. The government’s attempt to limit the amount of firearms they are allowed to buy backfires on them every single time they try it.”
When you take an item, politicize it and attempt to restrict it, the only result is a flood in the market with the product, Adika said.
“If you say tomorrow you’re going ban chewing gum and a politician supports it, you’ll see chewing gum disappearing off the shelves,” he said. “It wouldn’t happen with just guns; it would be with anything and everything.”
They agreed the age to purchase firearms should be raised form 18 to 21, but Benvenuto said such a change merited an additional measure.
“I think 18 years old is too young; however, if you’re going to change the law to the person being 21 years [before you can buy a firearm], then you need to change the law for somebody enlisting in the military,” he said.
Benvenuto said he believes restricting gun sales would only affect people who try to obtain them legally.
“Look at it this way: Let’s say we make the purchase of any kind of firearm illegal today. What is that going do when there’s 300 million guns out there? Nothing,” he said. “The only thing they achieve [from restricting guns] is taking away the right from law-abiding citizens. Criminals will always find a way to obtain them in the black market.”
Adika was one of the few people surveyed that believes the Florida legislature shouldn’t fund additional mental health services. Mental health is important, he said, but teachers and peers need to speak up and refer the potential troubled persons to the right places for evaluation and treatment, and better response plans should be in place.
“Rather than funding additional mental health services, we need to find out how we are going to get into places where a shooting is taking place and minimize the casualties because more shootings will happen,” he said.
Adika and Benvenuto agreed teachers have the right to carry guns in the classroom.
“Absolutely, teachers should be able to defend themselves and the student body,” Benvenuto said. Of course, It shouldn’t be taken lightly. Just because someone has a firearm on them doesn’t mean they can effectively utilize it. There’s a whole process of training before a person with a firearm can defend themselves.”
Benvenuto believes that extensive measures like intercoms and metal detectors should also be implemented to protect schools to prevent intruders from easily entering schools.
“You have an invitation for maniacs to go where there are no firearms: gun free zones,” he said. “You are basically waving a red flag telling them to come in.”
As divisive as the issue Adika said Democrats and Republicans are reacting the same way.
“Both sides of the aisle are coming into the store and purchasing firearms,” he said. “They also agree that we need to find better ways to minimize casualties instead of finding what to restrict and how many more laws the government can pass.”