When tragic stories of mass killing emerge, like the Sandy Hook Elementary school in Connecticut, the effects on weapons sales and legislation are well-publicized by news organizations and pundits, but there are other weapons-themed businesses like VIP Airsoft in Gilbert.
The company’s retail Airsoft and paintball gun business and the military-style assault competitions that are held in its 1,300-square-foot arena present intrinsic similarities to real weapons and real assault scenarios.
But, according to VIP owner Bryan Bijonowski, the fallout for his business is minimal.
“You get maybe one or two parents who ask a question or two or you might have somebody that bought a gun for their kids for Christmas and then might want to return it. We had one person do that,” Bijonowski recalled about the days following the December shooting.
Bijonowski also recalled that the same customer was a firearms user, “so I don’t understand the philosophy on that.”
Bijonowski, who says his is an entertainment venue, said he would expect more impact if a mass shooting happened closer to home.
The VIP Airsoft owner also said that it isn’t his customers or responsible firearms users who present a danger to his business or greater society.
“All these people who do that (mass killings), they’re some lunatic, some mentally ill person,” Bijonowski said. “It isn’t like you or me — some standup citizen — just goes nuts all of the sudden.”
Bijonowski added that if the mentally ill faced screening that disallowed them from possessing firearms, he thinks most gun issues can be solved.
Bijonowski did say he is vigilant when it comes to customers who may look like they have ill intentions but as the owner of an entertainment venue that draws mostly children, it’s hard to judge.
“We may get someone who looks odd, but I might look odd to somebody from another state, so it’s hard to draw conclusions like that,” he said.
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