SEMINOLE, Fla. - As a pawn shop owner, Frank James was always a big believer in gun rights and the second amendment. After all, it was his bread and butter business. But after what he saw in Newtown, Connecticut on Friday, he's had a change of heart. "I basically broke into tears and looked up on the wall, seeing the types of firearms I am selling," James said.
At the Loan Star Pawn store in Seminole, a glass display case that once housed several Bushmaster AR-15 assault rifles is now empty. The glass counters normally filled with handguns has been completely cleared.
"I'm not going to be part of it anymore," James said. He has several copies of the exact rifle suspected in the massacre.
"The model, the brand, everything," he said.
The father of four said he was especially touched knowing that his youngest child, a six-year old daughter, was the same age as many of those children who were shot to death.
"I dropped my daughter off at school this morning. That was enough for me," James said. "Conscience wins over making money."
The store manager came into the pawn shop Monday and saw James taking down signs advertising guns, and asked him what was going on.
"He said don't take the guns out of the safe. We're no longer selling them," said Leia Thomas. "I was shocked."
In an era of high gold prices and a slow economy that keeps many people from spending, Thomas was worried that without firearms sales, the business will suffer.
"I battled him and definitely debated that decision a lot, but I think it was the right one," she said. "As long as he has a clear conscience."
James said he thought long and hard over the weekend about what can happen after he sells somebody a firearm. He considered the possibility that the shooter's mother could have bought weapons from his store.
"I probably would have sold a firearm to that woman thinking she's buying it for her own defense, and then something like that happens," he said, referring to Friday's massacre. "That's something I couldn't live with."
His store is filled with nostalgia, like vintage telephones and cash registers. Guitars hang on the back wall, and fishing poles are displayed overhead. There's even a few sealed boxes of discontinued Hostess treats in a display case.
But twinkle sales can't come close to the thousands of dollars worth of guns he could have sold.
"It'll probably cause my business to go out of business," James said. "I couldn't live with myself if one of my firearms went out, got in the wrong hands and killed an innocent person, let alone a child," he said.
"We need more gun control."
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