Stephen Paddock, the Las Vegas shooter who took the lives of 58 people during the Las Vegas Route 91 Harvest Festival on Oct. 1, was a customer at Guns & Guitars, a local Mesquite business.
Chris Sullivan, owner/general manager of the local store, said Paddock had purchased about five guns over the course of a year prior to the shooting. While Sullivan and the rest of his family feel deep sympathy and sadness over what happened in Las Vegas, they don’t feel responsible for what they didn’t know would happen.
“We sell guns, that’s our business, when selling the guns to Paddock or anyone else, we follow every letter of the law, we dotted our Is and crossed our Ts, everything checked out each time,” said Sullivan, “There was absolutely no indication that anything was amiss or out of the ordinary. He bought five guns over the course of a year, that’s nothing compared to someone who collects. He began purchasing the guns at a time when gun sales soared. Just before the election, people were scrambling to get their hands on all the guns they could in fear of Hillary Clinton’s campaign promise to restrict gun sales; it was hard to keep up with the demand. There are gun collectors who have 10 times what Paddock had but don’t hurt others with them.
Guns & Guitars does not sell automatic weapons nor do they sell the bump stocks he used to modify the guns, he never purchased the ammunition from the store so there were no warning signals for the store owners to recognize, according to Sullivan. The modifications that were made to the guns and the parts were purchased and completed outside of what the store owners were privy to.
Paddock also purchased weapons from several other gun shops separately from the ammo and the items used to modify the semi-automatic weapons. There certainly was never enough at one time to raise any flags and not enough for anyone to suspect.
“We, all the sellers, gun shop owners, and shipping companies, did our jobs and we did it to the best of our ability,” Sullivan said. “We couldn’t have done anything different because there was just no reason to believe anything like this would happen, we didn’t know; nobody did. He was a normal guy and he and the paperwork checked out.”
The store owners have been getting some threats and hate mail, but Sullivan said nothing has come from the local community but love and support, for which they are grateful.
“We are a small, family owned business, we are community oriented, our goal here in town is to help keep Mesquite citizens safe,” Sullivan said. “We provide a service and the community embraces us for that; unfortunately, there are people across the country who look at us a little differently. We want to thank our friends and neighbors here in Mesquite for being so considerate, those who know that we are here just to help make our community a better place.
“He was here, he lived among us but the act of one man does not define the community, he’s not who we are. He touched our lives in a way that we don’t care for all that much but we have a strong foundation, great community members, businesses such as ‘View On’ magazine and the DVT along with organizations like the Chamber of Commerce, that have been very supportive; we’re grateful to them all.”