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‘This is just my conscience’: Georgia gun store closing over shootings targeting children

A Georgia gun shop owner has decided to shutter his business, saying he does not want to be responsible for children dying in a mass shooting.

Jon Waldman opened Georgia Ballistics in Duluth in March 2021, hoping to get into a line of work that would survive the pandemic — but as gun sales increased across the country, Waldman noticed that the number of children impacted by mass shootings also shot up.

“I don’t want something that I’ve personally touched, that I’ve helped a client with be used on children,” Waldman told 11Alive. “What stops this [gun] from being used against my kid? That’s the problem I have, you never know the person getting it just because they pass a background check.”

Jon Waldman

While his business came out of the pandemic unscathed, Waldman began to feel troubled by the number of children dying in shootings.

Gun deaths among children in the US rose 50% in the last two years, according to a Pew Research Center report.

Last year also marked the most violent year in schools, with 46 reported shootings, the most since the Columbine High School shooting in 1999, according to a Washington Post database.

Jon Waldman

Meanwhile, 2023 is on track to set a new record for the most mass shootings, according to Education Week, which reports there have already been 24 school shootings that resulted in injuries or deaths.

“The fact that it keeps being kids, after kids, after kids. That’s the thing for me,” Waldman said.

“There’s not a way to cast a huge net. There’s not a magical solution and it’s fixed, there’s not, it’s one of those where the community has to come together on both sides,” he added.

Jon Waldman

While Waldman believes people should be allowed to own guns, he says he can no longer be the one selling them.

“I just can’t sell items like this to people,” he said. “I’m not saying you shouldn’t be armed. I’m just saying I can’t sell something that could be used.”

Waldman said a client recently purchased a gun and 4,000 rounds of armor-piercing 30-06 bullets — a huge sale that he decided to back out of and issue a refund to the client.

“This is just my conscience,” he said. “And it’s more important to me than anything else.”