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Georgia gun shop owner shutters store after mass shootings targeting children

“I’m not against the Second Amendment," he said, "but just with my conscience, I can’t sell it because, I don’t know who it’s going to affect and hurt.”
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A gun store owner near Atlanta said he is closing his store after his conscience was burdened by recent mass shootings that targeted young victims.

Jon Waldman, 43, opened Georgia Ballistics in Duluth in March 2021, and post-pandemic business has been steady ever since, he said.

But a pair of recent attacks, one at a Christian school in Nashville, Tennessee, and another inside an Atlanta hospital, were the final straw for Waldman, who said that his shop is already closed and that he plans to have all weapons cleared out by June 15.

"There’s no guilt about it. I sell to law-abiding citizens," Waldman said Thursday.

He said he reached the point of worrying that any weapon he sells, even to someone who will never commit a crime, could end up in the wrong hands.

“I’m not against the Second Amendment. But just with my conscience, I can’t sell it, because I don’t know who it’s going to affect and hurt," he said.

"That’s what eats at me," he said. "If it can happen, it’s only a matter of time until it does happen."

Jon Waldman opened Georgia Ballistics in March 2021.
Jon Waldman opened Georgia Ballistics in March 2021. WXIA

Two recent shootings led Waldman to his decision, he said.

A former student of The Covenant School in Nashville killed three children and three adults at the campus on March 27, officials said. Police shot and killed the shooter.

“That really affected me,” Waldman said. “And then the shooting at Midtown [Atlanta] — this just has to stop. Dude killed a woman from the CDC who only wanted to help others. So I just can’t. That was the final straws.”

On May 3, a 24-year-old man opened fire in an Atlanta hospital, killing a woman and wounding four others, before he was captured, police said.

Waldman said that if he hadn't already decided to close his shop, another reason presented itself six weeks ago when a customer wanted to buy 4,000 rounds.

Even 1,000 would have been reasonable, but four times that amount, Waldman said, made him question his field.

"If you had ordered 200 to 1,000 rounds, that's fine. Anyone who shoots regularly, you're going through a thousand rounds in a month," he said.

"But when you order 4,000 rounds, the kind of stuff that goes through engine blocks, refrigerators and vests that police officers wear, I just can't sell that," he said.

Waldman insisted he's not pushing for greater restrictions on firearm ownership but is only advocating for more gun safety.

"I am more of a training and learning advocate," he said. "I am more about training and safety than I am 'everybody should just have one.' You should be able to safely have one."

He said too many gun owners don't pay the same attention to their firearms as to their cellphones.

“For the last couple of months, you just see kids, over and over again, getting shot," Waldman said. "It's kids being randomly shot, and I'm tired of it. I have a kid. My girlfriend has two kids. I’m a family man. I’m all about people being armed, but at the same time, they leave their stuff in their cars. They don’t see their firearms [to be as important] as their phones.”

Shannon Watts, the founder of the gun violence prevention group Moms Demand Action, praised Waldman for linking firearms to threats against children.

"This moral character being displayed by this one Georgia man — prioritizing children’s lives over gun-related profits — is sorely needed among right-wing Republican lawmakers in America," Watts said Thursday.

Asked about Waldman's concerns about young victims, Kris Brown, the president of Brady: United Against Gun Violence, said too many children are hurt by firearms every day in the U.S.

"We hear every day about a child, sometimes as young as 3 or 4 years old, getting their hands on their parents’ gun and accidentally shooting a loved one, or themselves," Brown said in a statement to NBC News.

"That’s because gun owners are for the most part not legally required to safely store their firearms. Eight kids a day are unintentionally killed or injured by these instances of ‘family fire.’”