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Police Chief: Gun owners need to protect their guns

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POSTED February 8, 2013 1:04 a.m.

It’s not guns that worry Manteca Police Chief Nick Obligacion.

It’s people that don’t lock them up.

With a national gun control debate raging in Washington, D.C., and calls coming from Sacramento to ban everything from “assault weapons” to magazines that carry more than six rounds, Obligacion joined Elite Arms owners Robert and Mark Davis Thursday night to talk about sensible solutions at a meeting of the Manteca TEA Party Patriots.

And their collective message was clear – responsible gun ownership is the necessary foundation.

“A lot of what is being proposed already lines up with what California already has,” Obligacion said. “I don’t think this is about gun control. It’s about the responsibility of the gun owner to protect their gun.

“We have people that aren’t responsible owners – I don’t want to name any names we had one person that had 53 guns stolen out of a $3,000 safe because it was inconvenient for him to shut and lock it. It would be nice if we could leave our doors unlocked today, but that’s not the society that we’re living in. We need to get back on track, protect ourselves and help protect everybody else by being responsible.”

Police have indicated criminals who use guns to commit crime typically steal them law-abiding gun owners.

Since opening its doors to Manteca residents 11 months ago, Elite Arms has sold more than 1,600 firearms. The store saw a sharp spike in the last two months when the rhetoric over gun control started flying in the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting.

Owner Robert Davis said that while he and his family take the responsibility that they have very seriously, it’s not the people who are using the guns for illegal purposes that are walking in off the street to get fingerprinted for a Department of Justice background check.

Only once in nearly a year of being in business have they had a weapon they sold get traced back by the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

“Criminals do not pay retail for their firearms,” he said. “They shop at all of your stores. They don’t shop at mine.”

Manteca Police officers are tasked with investigating those who fail the background check at places like Elite Arms, Bass Pro Shops and Big 5 Sporting Goods – determining whether it was a simple oversight on the part of the applicant or a willing attempt to obtain a firearm when not legally eligible.

The fight to keep the guns off the street, Obligacion said, is a struggle that reemerges every Monday morning when he checks the incident logs for the weekend and finds that more were stolen over the weekend than were actually recovered.

But Obligacion said that he’s been in law enforcement long enough to realize that there isn’t any magic potion that’s going to take away society’s ills or the demand for people in the underworld to arm themselves for what they perceive as necessary protection.

Such an undertaking, he said, will take generations.

“It’s something that’s going to have to happen over time,” he said. “It’s something that we’re going to have to engrain in our kids’ kids. Would it be nice to be able to leave the house and leave your door unlocked? It would. To leave your car warming up out front in the morning? It would.

“But it isn’t that way now and it’ll take time.”

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