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Ammunition's moving fast off the shelves at North Woods Outfitters in Potsdam.  Photo by David Sommerstein.
Ammunition's moving fast off the shelves at North Woods Outfitters in Potsdam. Photo by David Sommerstein.

Small outfitter says gun laws could cripple business

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Gun sellers in the North Country are digesting the new state gun control laws passed this week. Most aren't happy with what they're finding out.

North Woods Outfitters in Potsdam caters to hunters. The modest shop has a country store feel, with wood paneling and homemade shelving. A steady stream of customers walks in Thursday morning. A couple older guys with NRA patches sewn on their jeans jackets head straight to the counter where the ammunition is.

Store owner Rick Jones looks a little worried. He says boxes of bullets are flying off the shelves.

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David Sommerstein
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[The ammunition registration requirement could] just cripple a small business and I don't even know how the big box stores can handle it.
"It's been a mob in here the last week. But there won't be anything left to replenish it. All the warehouse suppliers are out of this ammunition."

That's good business in the short term, but under the new state laws, every ammunition purchase will have to be registered and the buyer will be subject to a background check. Jones says for a small shop, competing with WalMart right down the road, it can't be done.

"At peak times, there's just no way I could stop that many times a day to register it. That'll just cripple a small business and I don't even know how the big box stores can handle it."

There are no semi-automatic assault rifles here: "I didn't sell the tactical here. Nothing against 'em, but I didn't sell 'em here."

A few dozen hunting rifles and shotguns line one wall. Jones says he's already had to remove a few because their magazines exceed the new 7-round limit, like a Ruger 10/22 semi-automatic rifle that Jones says he's had around since the 1960s. "Now we will not be able to sell that."

He says he thinks "if they outlaw guns, then only outlaws are gonna have 'em, y'know? Cause they don't follow rules."

Kyle Burnett, a young guy, came from Parishville to pick up a new safety catch. He says closing the loophole on automatic weapons is fine, although he admits he likes the semi-automatics, many of which are now illegal.

"I kinda like those guns. I don't own any. It's be cool to have one. Not necessarily huge clip, but like, the army style. They're kinda neat."

Randy Shea says he has no need for assault rifles. He says some of the new gun control laws are okay.

"I think the stricter penalties for the people that abuse things and better background checks, those are two good points. But the rest I dunno about."

Store owner Rick Jones says it's law-abiding people who are targeted most by the new laws.

"We deal with the honest sportsman in here. And they're the ones that are being hampered by all this legislation. It's not the criminal."

Not all the new rules take effect at the same time. The one Jones is most worried about, registering ammunition, doesn't kick in for at least a year.

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