Local winds shifting on support for assault rifle sales

Hemet sporting goods owner says no more AR-15s

Rusty Strait/The Valley Chronicle
Marc Searl, owner of BJ Sporting Goods and former mayor of Hemet, says he no longer will sell assault rifles in his store.

■ By Rusty Strait / Senior Reporter

With the national hullabaloo regarding gun control ever since the Valentine’s Day Lakeland, Fla., high school massacre, I thought it might be a good idea to check with former mayor of Hemet, Marc Searl, who also owns BJ Sporting Goods in downtown Hemet.
The Valley Chronicle (TVC): You are a shop that sells guns. How do you feel about military style weapons being limited to military and not to civilians?
Marc Searl (MS): Every state is different. California has pretty strict gun control laws. I am not what they call a “black gun” guy or an AR-15 or AK-47 person. We’ve sold them in my store because people came in and asked for them. I carried them for awhile. I don’t, and won’t carry them anymore. I won’t carry accessories for them. We are strictly a pistol, revolver, and hunting rifle gun shop. We deal with hunting and protection of the home.
TVC: Do you think the country would do well if Congress adopted the California gun control laws?
MS: I see all of our government agencies adopting all kinds of rules and regulations. Enforcement is the problem. Unless they have people to enforce them, it is stupid to think anything will work.
TVC: How do you feel about the youth movement that has risen due to the Lakeland, Fla., school killings? Do you think these young people, tired of the way the government reacts to shootings in schools, will make a difference?
MS: I think all of us kind of feel that way, don’t we? We are all victims of big government and interference in our lives, over-taxation and so forth. It is kind of good to see young people come alive, get off their phones, stop texting, speak their minds and start communicating with others who may agree with them or even have differing points of view. None of us are all right or all wrong in our beliefs.
TVC: Twenty five percent of these kids are going to be able to vote in November and another 50 percent in 2020. Do you think they will have any effect on the upcoming elections?
MS: Anybody, if they get involved and follow through with it, can help make a difference or affect an election. The thing is, people change as they get older. They develop different ideas, having gone through some tough times and good times. I remember thinking how stupid my dad was when I was about 18. It took me until I was 45 to understand what a smart man he was.
TVC: You are well read; do you believe the new generation is not?
MS: Not necessarily. We have adults that have left this life on earth. Fortunately, they are in the minority. They’re living in a different world. I would say that most people are politically savvy.
TVC: Time sometimes makes us more centrist than left or right wing doesn’t it?
MS: Yes. We learn more from our mistakes and misadventures than we do from successes.
TVC: How do you feel about the major companies like Delta Airlines and Amazon, who are withdrawing their discounts to NRA members?
MS: This is all economically driven. Supply and demand. There are other suppliers who are not taking that route. I think it is a knee-jerk reaction on the part of big corporations like Dick’s sporting goods and others. Delta Airlines is acting in a ridiculous manner. Why would the airlines want to be involved?
TVC: Giving a discount doesn’t seem to be a political move—or is it?
MS: They’re giving the discount because they want the business and the millions of dollars that goes with it. It is profit driven. Follow the money.
TVC: Along another line, has your business been affected by the recession?
MS: I think Hemet is generally a very low income area and it takes time to make a comeback from something that serious. Sure, we’ve had our share of the downturn. Business definitely took a hit in our area. There’s a lot of competition within the local marketplace, with two Walmarts, Big Five sporting goods and others competing for the same business. We are all looking for the same dollar in a community with few dollars to go around.
TVC: You’re probably familiar with an article in the Atlantic magazine awhile back which expressed the opinion that of the 10 California cities most affected by the recession, Hemet would be the only one not likely to recover. What do you think?
MS: It is a cul-de-sac community with cheaper rents. We’re getting a lot more people here for that reason who are mostly low-income folks.
TVC: How does a bedroom community survive unless there is some manufacturing, which is practically nil in this valley?
MS: To bring manufacturing to the San Jacinto Valley we need a lot of different things. We need a special line in here to handle the grease that goes out to E.M.W.D. and the closest spot to connect to is out in Menifee. Until we get one of those specialty lines into the valley that can take away the manufacturing waste, we can’t currently accommodate the metal content in the waste. Until we have that, we are not going to be able to bring those manufacturing businesses here.
TVC: Do you have an opinion on Measure U that raised the local sales tax by one percent?
MS: I think it was well intended. It might suppress some crime but won’t protect everybody. As far as fixing everything, I don’t think there is a panacea for crime in this valley.
TVC: It is suggested that more cops on the street will prevent crime. Generally we don’t know about crime until after it is committed.
MS: That’s exactly right. They can’t protect you and me individually. That’s impossibility in this town.
TVC: How do you feel about the political atmosphere in Hemet? Will we ever recover from some the garbage that’s slung around?
MS: I don’t think you can ever recover from stuff like that when an unknown source can go on Facebook and trash somebody who has no way of knowing who it is. They have no defense against a bunch of cowards who wear masks to hide their identity.
Marc Searl’s family is longtime residents of this community and have established a good name for themselves both in their business ventures as well as individually. Marc has always been active here and certainly knows the lay of the land.

Just sayin’
Rustystrait@gmail.com

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