ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Fla. -- A local sheriff is taking gun control into his own hands.
St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken Mascara will be mailing letters to 84 federal firearms licensed gun dealers in the county Tuesday, asking them to voluntarily stop selling semi-automatic weapons to anyone under 21-years-old.
Before the letters hit the mail, Mascara has already personally called about 10 gun dealers to talk about his request. So far, it’s being well received, including by the owner of Paramount Pawn and Jewelry in Port St. Lucie.
Owner John O’Neill said his shop sells about 50 AR-15s each month. They are popular for hunting or target practice. “It’s easy as far as magazines go, to not have to constantly reload it,” O’Neill said.
But O’Neill does not mind the sheriff’s request to not sell semi-automatic weapons to anyone under 21. That has already been his practice for his five years as owner of the business.
“We have the right to refuse business to anyone," O’Neill said.
He also said it is very rare to have anyone under 21 inquire about a semi-automatic.
This is Mascara’s way of responding to outcry following the Stoneman Douglas shooting, where a gunman opened fire with an AR-15 and killed 17 people.
The state could decide to put more limitations on semi-automatic gun sales, but Mascara wants to encourage safer gun rules locally, without waiting for the state to take action.
“A certified letter is going out from me to those 84 federal firearm licensed dealers in St. Lucie County, asking them to sign the agreement until such time the legislation is enacted and we hope it is.”
O’Neill hopes other gun dealers will sign on.
"He’s really just looking after kids’ safety.”