Yamuni came to embrace gun culture after a turbulent childhood. In 1980, a year after he was born, he survived a car accident that forced doctors to amputate his right arm above the elbow. He grew up an only child in a single-parent household.

At Columbus High, Yamuni became a history buff. "The Constitution really resonates with me," he says. "I believe the people who wrote it are smarter than me, so I don't want anyone to trample it."

During his senior year, a classmate's uncle took them to Trail Glades. It was the first time he gripped the cold steel of a handgun. "It was a Heckler & Koch semiautomatic pistol," Yamuni remembers. "It was totally a whole new world."

Suleiman Yousef purchased his first AR-15-style rifle in 2006, two years after the federal assault rifle ban expired.
Giulio Sciorio
Suleiman Yousef purchased his first AR-15-style rifle in 2006, two years after the federal assault rifle ban expired.
Jorge Corbato has been making rifles in Miami for almost a decade.
Francisco Alvarado
Jorge Corbato has been making rifles in Miami for almost a decade.

He joined the National Rifle Association when he was 18, after he purchased his first firearm, a bolt-action hunting rifle. Upon graduating from high school, he enrolled at Miami Dade College and started his first business, a fish tank store. During the real estate boom between 2001 and 2007, Yamuni flipped houses with a friend. In 2008, a year after the market tanked, he opened a gun store in a Pinecrest shopping center.

"Initially I didn't like the AR-15," Yamuni says. "It is a hard rifle to manipulate... Over the past five years, it's really grown on me."

Unlike the AK-47, the AR-15 has a platform that can be switched up in a variety of ways, including firing different caliber bullets and changing the barrel from long to short. The rifle, far from a terrifying weapon of mass destruction, is a testament to American ingenuity, Yamuni argues.

Though Yamuni closed his shop in 2011, he boasts a personal armory of more than 15 rifles. He's become a decent sniper too. This past October 25, he placed third among 18 shooters in a short-barrel rifle competition at Markham Park. In July, he finished fifth in a field of 54.

Every Thursday evening, Yamuni meets with other enthusiasts at Trail Glades for a training session. The crowd is all-male, with the exception of a lone petite blonde. Many of the men are entrepreneurs like Yamuni, who now owns a firm that buys land and then flips it to oil companies. His buddy Suleiman Yousef owns a mixed martial arts gym. There's also a wedding and fashion photographer, a financial planner, a health-care executive, and a franchise restaurant owner named Ric Friedberg.

"I started getting into guns a year-and-a-half ago," Friedberg says. "I injured my left shoulder playing golf. I was sitting on my couch doing nothing one day when a buddy of mine took my ass to the range. Since my right arm was OK, I could shoot, he said."

The man who introduced Friedberg to firearms is a burly strawberry-blond 50-year-old financial planner named Bill, who didn't want to give his last name. Bill and Friedberg travel 33 miles from Weston to Trail Glades every Thursday. Born and raised in Hialeah in the '60s, Bill owned his first shotgun when he was 12. In addition to an AR-15 and multiple handguns, he is the proud owner of a MAC-11, a submachine gun that can strafe 950 rounds per minute and required a six-month background check to buy. Asked why he needs such a deadly device, Bill explains, "Because I can legally own it, and I had the funds to buy it."

It's easy to demonize Yamuni and his crew as gun nuts for embracing the kind of weapons that have led to so many massacres in America. But outside the range, he's no different from the average Miamian. He recently married his girlfriend of six years, who works for the South Beach office of a national modeling agency. He drinks at hipster watering holes such as Gramps and the Corner. He has a chocolate French bulldog named Biggie Smalls.

"I believe in gay marriage and I am pro-choice," Yamuni professes. "Everybody deserves equality, even gun owners. We should not be pigeonholed as all being crazy, right-wing gun nuts."

The Victims

Shortly before 9:45 p.m. on October 3, 2011, Ladarius Evans was leaning against the Plexiglas partition of a bus stop on Miami Gardens Drive when a Nissan sedan screeched to a halt in front of the 20-year-old. A dreadlocked man popped the passenger-side door and aimed an AK-47.

Evans leapt to his feet and bolted across three lanes, but an oncoming bus blocked his path. Full metal jacket rounds whizzed past. Two ripped through his upper left leg and exited his right leg. Bleeding, he staggered into the parking lot of the Miami Job Corps Center and collapsed.

"I was devastated," recalls his mother, Gwendolyn, describing the phone call that her son had been shot. "I screamed and rushed over to the scene. By the time I got there, he had already been airlifted to Jackson."

Evans' story should sound familiar to anyone who has spent time in Miami's poor, traditionally black neighborhoods, where violence by assault rifles doesn't attract the same attention as Lanza's massacre but fells dozens of young residents a year.

In fact, Evans was just one of 27 people under the age of 21 shot with an AK-47 or similar rifle in Miami-Dade during the past 16 months. Eight of those victims died. During the same time, at least 34 adults were mowed down by rifles in Miami Gardens and unincorporated Northwest Miami-Dade. Fifteen of those victims didn't survive. In Miami's District 5, which includes Overtown, Liberty City, and Brownsville, six out of 20 people shot by assault weapons in 2012 died. There were no assault rifle attacks in the city's four other districts.

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5 comments
tethysv
tethysv

Nice biased hit piece. While you mention percentages of homicides committed with guns locally, rather than compare that to national statistics to see if that's unusual (i.e., rather than act with some journalistic integrity) you instead simply imply, without presenting any evidence, that this is unusually high and is so due to Florida's gun laws. Oddly enough though, when one actually does the journalistically responsible thing and looks at national figures and those from other states (like Illinois, with some of the strictest gun laws, and highest gun crime rates), South Florida, if anything, has a LOWER ratio of gun deaths to total homicides.

And despite your blatant attempt to tie all this to so-called "assault weapons", you never mention the fact that virtually none of these deaths ever involve such firearms. However, just as everywhere else in the US, such firearms are used in fewer than 1/2 of 1% of homicides (and virtually never in suicides). In fact, the only specific study done in the state on the subject, carried out by the city of Miami, one of the most anti-gun city governments in the state, found that so-called "assault weapons" are the LEAST often used type of gun in any form of crime within the city, despite the fact that, as you point out, they are one of the most commonly owned.

But hey, what are facts and verifiable statistics compared to bigotry and unsupported innuendo, right?

localGuy
localGuy

Spence-Jones  said 2 words..   No Snitching! 

icculus17
icculus17

jobs? sounds like a one-man operation

localGuy
localGuy

My question is, which of the proposed laws, will stop a sandy hook, or denver type attack?   (today). or even the AZ Gifford's attack?   


background checks make sense.  but limiting the number of bullets?  


would stiffer sentences have the same effect?  -felons caught with guns get 20-30 years.



localGuy
localGuy

Ruger Mini-14 sniper rifle.  - that is an oxymoron.  mini14's are not that accurate.

 
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