One outspoken Texas gun store owner is offering local teachers a 10 percent discount to attend his concealed carry handgun classes in light of the Newtown, Conn., tragedy.
"I was stunned, but not necessarily shocked, when I heard what happened [in Newtown]," said Crockett Keller, who owns Keller's Riverside Store in Mason, Texas. "I thought, 'There we go again, another gun-free zone.' What would have happened had there been a teacher with a handgun or a principal with some sort of defense training?"
Politicians have been promising to crack down on guns after 20-year-old Adam Lanza murdered 26 people -- including 20 children -- at Sandy Hook Elementary on Friday. On Sunday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) announced plans to introduce a bill that would ban assault weapons, and on Monday even staunch political supporters of the National Rifle Association were adjusting their tones.
But Keller disagrees -- fewer guns won't make for a safer society, he said. "The solution is not to take away our guns," Keller said. "Personal safety is everyone's responsibility, and if we're armed we can be forces of good in the world even when the police aren't present." Keller said his customers are stocking up in fear of new legislation curbing gun ownership.
According to Keller, human nature will always contain a violent streak, with or without guns. "It's better for the righteous law-abiding people to be armed and win over the criminals," he said. After announcing the discount for teachers this weekend, Keller said he hasn't had any teachers enroll in his class -- yet.
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Not all gun store owners think arming more people is the solution. Chris Watson, the general manager of a gun store in northeast Georgia, said he would personally turn away anyone who came into his store this week trying to stock up in fear of new gun control legislation spurred by the Newtown tragedy. "Now's not the moment to think about yourself when 20 kids are dead," said Watson.
This isn't the first time Keller has made the news: last year, the Texan attracted attention for an ad that aired on a country music station saying his shop would not offer concealed carry handgun classes to the following categories of people: "socialist liberal and/or voted for the current campaigner-in-chief" or "non-Christian Arab or Muslim."
Keller said he intended the ad's comments to be humorous. "I wrote the ad myself and thought it didn't have enough pizazz, so I thought I'd take a jab at some of my liberal acquaintances," he said. "Then it blew up. All of the sudden my colloquial ad wasn't colloquial any longer." Keller now sells t-shirts printed with some of the ad's text at his store, along with the new and used rifles, machine guns and silencers he offers to buyers who meet the legal requirements for gun ownership.
Keller doesn't oppose liberals entirely -- "I'm happy to have a polite discussion and agree to disagree," he said -- but he noted that he attributes certain social problems like mass shootings to the rise of progressive beliefs. "One of the factors to blame for this situation [in Newtown] is the atheist movement," Keller said. "God has been taken out of our culture. The current generation can't distinguish between good and evil."
"When I was a young student in public school, we prayed regularly," said Keller, now 66. "Schools should provide a moral compass to people who can't get it at home."
Keller's comments echo those of some conservative politicians in response to the shooting. In an interview with Fox News on Friday, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee linked the tragedy to the fact that Americans have "systematically removed God from our schools." Huckabee added, "Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage?"