By BRIAN ANDERSON
ANNISTON, Ala. —
Despite a tumultuous, national debate on assault weapon bans and gun control, a Weaver resident says he thinks he can make a firearm manufacturing business thrive in Calhoun County.
At a City Council meeting last week, James Goode formally announced his intentions to bring Fawkes and Wulfe Armory to the former Weaver Groceries on Main Street - a dream he said he hopes can begin in a few months, after he receives approval from the federal government.
Goode said he’s counting on two guns in particular - AR-15s and M1911 pistols - to make Fawkes and Wulfe a hit, especially among members of law enforcement who he hopes will make up most of his clientele.
Goode said he started seriously considering the business about 10 years ago, and has been gaining support in private from potential customers in Calhoun County. His first public declaration of the business though, came last week, when he announced his intentions to the Weaver City Council.
Assuming Goode follows the proper channels - which include federal inspections and compliances, which will take several months to complete - the council said it had no issues doing business with him, but Weaver Mayor Wayne Willis did tell Goode at the meeting he thought it might be a strange time to open up shop.
“It’s kind of a risky business right now,” Willis said.
And Goode knows that. After President Barack Obama announced Thursday he wants to reinstate an assault weapons ban, Goode said he realizes it’s a peculiar time to want to enter the firearm manufacturing business. Goode acknowledged the AR-15s, which he hopes will be his new business’ calling card, could be restricted to sales to police officers and police departments by the time the proper permits allow him to start manufacturing and selling firearms.
“If that’s the case, we’re prepared to sell them exclusively to law enforcement,” he said.
Brian Molchin, the director for the National Association of Federally Licensed Firearms Dealers, said right now is a tough time to be jumping into the assault weapons business with the political landscape “cloudy” when it comes to knowing what new firearms laws may be considered in Washington.
“The White House has been very vague and opaque as to what exactly they want to do,” Molchin said. “I don’t think anybody, even Mr. Obama, can tell you what exactly is going to happen.”
As far as manufacturing weapons go, Molchin said he doesn’t think there will be new regulations restricting businesses, but it doesn’t mean that a business can thrive if sales are non-existent.
“You really can’t make a lot of money manufacturing if you can’t sell them,” he said.
Although Goode said Weaver officials are still trying to figure out what kind of license he would need to operate in the city, Willis said most of the proper channels and federal inspections Goode needs to follow will fall outside of Weaver’s jurisdiction.
“From a municipal standpoint, it’s pretty easy,” Willis said. “He just has to come to City Hall, declare a business, and pay for a business license.”
Willis said he’d prefer a retail business downtown, which could net the city revenue through sales tax, but said any business coming to Weaver is good business. And despite proximity to churches and the elementary school, the mayor said he doesn’t imagine Goode’s firearms manufacturing location will cause much of a stir.
“Mr. Goode is primarily manufacturing handguns for law enforcement use,” Willis said. “But as far as a fear of pouring more guns into Weaver, I don’t see that being an issue. You can buy a gun at every pawn shop around. Mr. Goode’s main business is manufacturing.”
And regardless of the hurdles he might face, Goode said Fawkes and Wulfe is mostly a labor of love and a life-long dream.
“My dad was in the military and my grandfather hunted,” Goode said. “My whole life I’ve been around guns. It’s a passion.”