MORGANTOWN — “We are not going anywhere,” Big Daddy Enterprises Public Relations Coordinator Nick Lahera declared Thursday evening, drawing cheers from a crowd of 30 or so people gathered at the Mon County Center in Mylan Park.
In fact, Lahera continued, the company has accelerated its timeline to open the 1,500 square-foot Big Daddy Guns retail location planned for The Deck development at 1050 University Avenue.
“We actually had a visit there today. Progress is going great. Everything is looking really, really good,” Big Daddy Guns co-founder Sherrie McKnight said. “We’re planning to open in roughly two months. I would say September if everything continues to go on course.”
Lahera and McKnight made the trip from Florida to Morgantown to meet with the community. They also fielded questions on a variety of topics ranging from gun laws to school shootings to national, state and local politics.
There was also a fair amount of discussion regarding Protect Morgantown, the group that organized in an effort to prevent the store’s opening in the downtown location. Big Daddy Guns actually purchased the domain name protectmorgantown.com, which now redirects to the company’s site.
“Big Daddy Guns has complied with every city, county, state and federal regulation required for opening here and we have every right to open our store here. We’re very excited to do so,” McKnight said, noting the opposition’s efforts to change city zoning laws isn’t going to stop her store, only any potential competitors.
“When I hear, ‘You can’t do this. You can’t be here. You can’t go there. You can’t do this.’ Yes, you can,” McKnight said. “We push back when people tell us no.”
The Morgantown store will join six others — four in Florida and two in Georgia. Retail locations in Tennessee, Alabama and South Carolina are also in the works. This is all in addition to a membership-based online retail arm known as Big Daddy Unlimited, which sells nationwide.
The Dominion Post spoke to a number of the event’s attendees, each of whom said they believe the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms is under attack now more than ever.
“Shall not be infringed. We’re allowed to have guns and we’re allowed to defend ourselves,” Morgantown resident Noah Chiarelli said, before commenting on the effort to stop the store. “These people are going to lose. It’s going in there. These stores are going to open. Shall not be infringed.”
Mickey Geisel, another Morgantown resident, said he doesn’t own a firearm, and he is not surprised at the uproar over the store.
“It’s about your rights. If you’re from Morgantown, you know it’s a liberal town. You see they’re also fighting their police department and can’t staff the police force adequately,” he said. “It all kind of relates.”
Micah Rollan agreed, explaining he and his friends have been sharing news of Thursday’s event on social media.
“We just thought it was a good thing to come out and support the new gun store and make sure the Second Amendment will be defended here in Morgantown,” Rollan said. “There is a lot of opposition to this location for the store and we just want to make sure freedom will reign and our Constitutional rights remain intact.”