On Gun Appreciation Day, Protesters Target Delray Beach Weapons Dealer

Gun lovers around the country designated this past Saturday, January 19, a "gun appreciation day." In Utah, a guy celebrated by bringing an assault rifle into a JC Penney, and five others celebrated by getting shot at gun shows in Ohio, Indiana, and North Carolina. Locally, the Delray Shooting Center did bang-up business (pun intended), as evidenced by its Facebook page.

Around the corner in Delray, protesters gathered outside of Century International Arms, a weapons dealer that, according to its website, is "North America's largest importer of surplus firearms and accessories." The company sells "converted firearms" as well as "newly manufactured firearms, knives, swords, ammunition, scopes and related accessories."

So, about these "converted firearms" ... According to PBS, which featured Century in a 2011 investigation about worldwide gunrunning, the company starts with "slimmed-down 'sporting' versions of their foreign rifles that can pass the import test. Then, once the weapons are legally in the United States, a few foreign parts are replaced with American ones." The result is "a high-powered rifle from abroad that, as altered, would be barred under the import laws."

Joni Albrecht, a doctor, helped organize Saturday's protest.

Prior to the event, Albrecht wrote, "We just lost 4 people in Delray to gun violence and here we have a huge weapons dealer as our neighbor. We are seeing in the US how strong the profit motive of corporations can be when we allow it to be the biggest voice in the room. Lives are lost when we dont speak out. This rally is a place to start raising our voices."

She sent pictures after the event and said about 15 people had shown up.

Century Arms could not be reached late Saturday, but its website said it was experiencing "unprecedented order volume" and was hiring for six positions (in Vermont).

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Deirdra Funcheon