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Gun Dealer Near Murray Manor School: ‘My Heart Weighs Very Heavy’ for Town

Tactical weapons are sold a block from elementary school and next to a U.S. Post Office annex.

Updated at 11:03 p.m. Dec. 14, 2012

Like millions of Americans, the longtime friends who run a year-old business in the Lake Murray Shopping Center were shocked by news of 20 schoolchildren and six adults being shot to death in Newtown, CT.

But their perspective is unique—as owners of a shop selling high-powered guns a block away from Murray Manor Elementary School.

“My heart weighs very heavy for them,” said one of the two owners, a San Diego native in his 40s. “I feel very, very sad they had to experience that. What else can you really say?”

The co-owners—who asked that their names not be used in this story—have a special appreciation for the Newtown police as well. The co-owners say they have a combined 30 years in law enforcement.

They declined to say which police agency they work for. But they weren’t hesitant to share information about their shop, Wilde Built Tactical, in a rented space at 6045 Lake Murray Blvd.—feet away from a U.S. Postal Service annex in north La Mesa.

“From a law enforcement perspective, it breaks my heart,” said an owner. “That could be my partner or me responding to [shooting] calls.”

He said he’s handled similar shootings in his job—“but not of that caliber.”

Told that at least one Murray Manor parent expressed dismay at the presence of a gun shop west of the K-6 campus, the owner said: “I would encourage them to come in and talk to us—get a feel for us, for our business. We’re extremely responsible.”

Their next-door neighbor, longtime Farmers Insurance Group agent Maureen Ann Moran, said she felt safer having a gun shop in the small shopping center, anchored by a Phillips 76 gas station that has been robbed several times.

Moran says she thinks the gun dealer acts as a deterrent—and gives pause to transients who inhabit the area.

The gun shop owner who spoke to Patch echoed that thought: “I think [neighbors] should feel safe knowing that two law enforcement officers operate the store.”

He acknowledged that the shop stores weapons—including semi-automatic AR-15s similar to the one reportedly used in the Oregon mall shootings—but declined to say how many.

He also said he was “not at liberty to say” what his security system was.

The principal owner, who also has a Facebook page and Twitter account, didn’t start out as a seller of tactical weapons.

His original business, operating out of his home, he said, was making nylon gear for military, law enforcement and “high adventure” uses.

The weapons sales came later, and he said his shop opened in January. The grand opening was in April, according to a flier posted on his website.

“It was kind of like the perfect storm,” he said of finding the office space next to the post office parking lot. “The rent was affordable, and it was available—and we needed a space.”

Did anyone in the shopping center complain about the gun shop as new tenant?

“We encountered no issues at all,” said the owner. Neither has he heard any concerns from the nearby elementary school, he said.

In fact, his partner—also in his 40s—enrolled his children at Murray Manor after a nephew attended the El Paso Street school. The gun shop partner said he moved to La Mesa in 1997 and later served as PTA president at Murray Manor. One child recently attended Murray Manor, and two other children now go to Grossmont High School—a senior boy and a freshman girl.

Wilde Built Tactical doesn’t sell to hunters, the owner said, calling those items “a completely different genre of weapon. … I’m not a hunter. My partner is not a hunter.”

He said: “Our experience is in the tactical aspect of firearms—as opposed to the hunting aspect.”

The shop advertises in law enforcement publications, and specializes in Glocks, which he said have a reputation for reliability and accuracy. He also sells Remingtons and other makes.

In September 2011, his Facebook page boasted: “Got the contract for Rapid City Police Department. I will be outfitting over 70 of their officers with external vest covers!”

Another post suggested a European clientele: “Just completed a set of four custom outer vests for police officers in Ireland!”

And in November 2010, the Facebook page announced:  “Had a meeting with a local SWAT team. I am very excited to be working with them to develop some custom tactical gear solutions to meet their needs.”

The owner who spoke to Patch wouldn’t comment on some gun issues in the news—such as NBC sportscaster Bob Costas blaming a “gun culture” for the murder-suicide involving an NFL linebacker.

Asked what responsibility he bears as a gun dealer, he said: “We abide by all the federal and state laws” and noted holding various city, state and federal licenses and certificates to sell firearms. 

But the owner acknowledged: “If somebody wants to do harm to somebody, they can use whatever they have available—a shovel, a broom, a hammer. Some people choose firearms.”

He said his shop does all the required background checks, and “we operate by the rules. ... Our philosophy is very conservative. We have the right, obviously, to refuse service to anybody, which we have.”

He said he sought and received approval from his employer to operate a gun shop.

An East County resident for 15 years who was born and grew up in San Diego, the owner said women have visited his small store “who in the past have been intimidated [about] going into a gun shop.”

But women referred by word of mouth to Wilde Built Tactical end up leaving with an education, he said, “and we’ve actually had requests to provide personal [firearms] training.”

The shop is closed Mondays and Tuesdays (but open by appointment) to coordinate with the co-owners’ work schedule in law enforcement.  It’s open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays.

“A lot of our peers shop here,” said the owner, “because they trust our judgment. They would rather shop with a fellow law enforcement officer.”

Things I Learned December 15, 2012 at 04:58 AM
Hey remember when a gun jumped off the shelf and shot up a nearby school after the 10 day waiting period and background check was over I don't but I do remember why they call it going postal and it wasn't about the gun it was about government employees who resented having to work for their pay.
Super Terrific Response December 15, 2012 at 06:10 AM
Hey TIL, Please regale us with more from your demented mind. It is pitiful how you bring everything around to our "commie president" or the work ethic of government workers. Twenty children are killed and this is how you respond. You are pathetic.
Things I Learned December 15, 2012 at 06:31 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zLSQKephgmU
Things I Learned December 15, 2012 at 02:32 PM
Komfort 6:30 am Things I Learned 6:30 am
Barbara December 15, 2012 at 03:28 PM
I think this "headline" gets my vote for the most desperate, attention-begging headline of the year. Congratulations.
Bradley Hill December 15, 2012 at 03:50 PM
Thank you for writing this article and for sharing your perspective on an incident and an issue of concern to us all. I think that the mention of the Post Office in the subtitle of the article was uncalled for, in that it promotes by inference an undeserved stereotype.
Komfort December 15, 2012 at 04:09 PM
If the store sells semi-automatic high-power knives, what should we do? http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/man-attacks-22-kids-knife-china-school-article-1.1220230
Patti December 15, 2012 at 04:19 PM
This tragedy shouldn't bring about another "band-aid" fix (gun control) because a demented person can simply find another weapon of choice. The question should be "Why do these people pick up the gun in the first place?" Our society is broken and we must address the root causes or we will have failed.
Jeff Phinney December 15, 2012 at 05:12 PM
I read that article looking to find that "unique" perspective mentioned and came away with nothing different than what usually finds when someone is trying to sell weapons whose sole intent is to inflict as much damage in the shortest amount of time with the least effort. Kudos to the Patch for being nothing more than a venue to rationalize their operation within the neighborhood. And nice try with the tired and worn false equivalency. Last I checked, shovels, brooms, hammers, etc., are designed with the intent to perform functions besides harming and killing others. One can't make that claim when it comes to assault weapons. We get it, guns don't kill people, people kill people, but what these folks are pushing sure make it a helluva lot easier.
Jerome from Layton December 15, 2012 at 06:39 PM
I recall a failed bank robbery a few years ago in LA. The local gun store helped the LAPD even the odds. By the way, after a horrific terror attack on one of their schools, Israel armed the school employees and volunteers. That was over 50 years ago; so far, so good.
Ted December 15, 2012 at 07:18 PM
The guns used in Newtown (according to news reports) were pistols, not semi-automatic rifles. Pistols are the most frequently used firearm for criminal purposes (and for self defense), since rifles are unwieldy and difficult to conceal.
Don Lambert. December 15, 2012 at 10:08 PM
We live in a violent world of people, get used to it and take steps to protect yourself and your loved ones from the crazy's out there. Your safety and protection is your own responsibility. The world will not ever be free from violence perpetrated by those folks that wish to do people harm, take what you have by force and control you by force. If the honest law abiding citizens have not the means to protect themselves they will all become victims.
Komfort December 16, 2012 at 03:15 PM
Undeserved stereotypes should be limited to lawful gunowners.
Things I Learned December 16, 2012 at 04:35 PM
Assault weapons are fully automatic high powered assault rifles. The general public does not include hunters and people with self defense needs. Children still walk to school.
Jerome from Layton December 16, 2012 at 11:43 PM
Is there a doughnut shop in that mall? That's for the client's convenience. The "not suitable for hunting" canard keeps getting repeated about the AR platform. This is not true and it's turning out this is one of the most versatile platforms in the market with "uppers" available all the way from .17 caliber all the way to .308. That means varmints to elk. Too bad Senator Parata's SB-22 makes it unavailable to most Californians.
Kevin George December 17, 2012 at 09:33 PM
Gun stores don't kill people any more than liquor stores kill people.
Don Lambert. December 19, 2012 at 01:54 AM
Politicians, do you really want to save lives? Ban McDonald's. That will make a bigger impact on society. Cause Percent of Total 1. Diseases of the heart 28.5 2. Malignant tumors 22.8 3. Cerebrovascular diseases 6.7 4. Chronic lower respiratory diseases 5.1 5. Accidents (unintentional injuries) 4.4 6. Diabetes mellitus 3.0 7. Influenza and pneumonia 2.7 8. Alzheimer's disease 2.4 9. Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis 1.7 10. Septicemia (blood poisoning) 1.4 11. Suicide 1.3 12. Chronic liver disease and cirrhosis 1.1 13. Primary hypertension and hypertensive renal disease 0.8 14. Parkinson's disease (tied) 0.7 15. Homicide (tied) 0.7 -Brian On Dec 17, 2012, at 3:06 PM, David Koch <vintage90@gmail.com> wrote: http://dailycaller.com/2011/01/19/america-dont-repeat-australias-gun-control-mistake/
Don Lambert. December 19, 2012 at 02:05 AM
Or, how many car dealership are by schools (like 500 hp corvettes)? "No number of gun-control laws can contain the evil that has been let loose in America. Feel good gun control laws kill children and adults. Not even black clad police with masks and automatic weapons can maintain social order in our out-of-control society. The nation needs a religious revival to steer it away from certain moral destruction. That revival will not come from feel-good, coffeehouse sermons that do not call sin what it is." Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2012/12/newtown-carnage-blame-church-not-god-or-guns/#168O7lPgQ8bJMlFc.99 This article is written by the son of atheist, Maureen Madalyn O'Hair, who was responsible for having God removed from the schools…his book is entitled…"My Life Without God" How can our children be protected when God has so graciously stepped aside from where He is not wanted! The protection from evil has been removed from our schools and our country…
Don Lambert. December 20, 2012 at 10:28 PM
If the Federal, State, County and Local governments can find and legislate a gun law that all criminals would obey, then why not turn it into a murder law that the all murderers will obey...? Until then, why does not the government hire and train armed guards for each educational institution in the country by using some of our tax money used for home land defense. Seeing as how the government has made educational facilities defense free zones by their feel good gun control laws one would think that responsibility would then fall upon those that have eviscerated our ability to defend our children and our selves in those deemed by the government to be defense free zones. Such an novel idea certainly would meet with approval of any self-respecting nanny state, bleeding heart liberal advocate. After all, it seems the majority of the voting electorate is made up of such folks.

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