A timeline of the shooting outside Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas on October 1st, which killed 58 people. (Oct. 5)
A downtown Phoenix coffee-shop owner was trying to do something he thought was good.
Jonathan Pring turned over his guns to Phoenix police and made his decision public, hoping to send a message about firearms in the United States after Sunday’s mass shooting in Las Vegas.
“I hope my actions inspire others. If we can achieve a safer world for our children, we will have done a good thing,” the 36-year-old said in a viral Facebook post that has since been deleted.
Pring, who is originally from England, called the Phoenix Police Department on Tuesday to ask if an officer could come pick up his Walther Arms PK380 and Ruger 10/22 tactical rifle.
He documented the exchange with a uniformed officer in the living room of his home on Facebook. The post, which was shared hundreds of thousands of times, included a heartfelt message and a series of photos.
Pring said he was trying “be the change he wanted to see in the world.” His decision met with extreme backlash from gun owners and right-wing enthusiasts online.
When the Republic reached out to Pring about the backlash he’s been receiving, he directed us to a follow-up statement on Facebook.
“I received several hundred messages, emails & texts. Some very lovely and supportive. Most were mean,” Pring said in the post Thursday. “Very few offered any alternative solutions to the problem.”
He took down the post, but the harassment continued, including some death threats.
“At 2000+ shares I reluctantly deleted the post because people started posting my address online & threatening my family,” Pring added.
Many posts encouraged people to break into the home he shares with his wife and four-year-old child.
He and his family have since left town “to escape the heat (in every sense),” Pring added. “I don’t feel quite at home here as I have over the last decade.”
Pring said that he hoped more people would act to prevent gun violence but that he knows it’s a big order to ask people to surrender their guns.
“It is my personal opinion, and it is my right,” he said. “However, in light of my new-found fame, I am reminded that guns are a valued part of the American story.”
Pring told The Arizona Republic on Wednesday that he wanted to do something in response to the Las Vegas shooting.
“I still believe the Las Vegas shooting event could have been avoided,” Pring said on Facebook. “I also believe that future events can be avoided with common sense gun controls.”
He took a moment to reflect on the people who criticized his choice to give up his guns.
“Many of the negative comments I received mentioned ‘bad guys,'” Pring said. “I ask you, if you are the person sending me threatening and hateful messages simply for expressing my 1st Amendment rights, perhaps it is you who is the bad guy?”
Turning over his guns
Phoenix police Sgt. Jonathan Howard confirmed Pring’s account of turning over his guns.
“Phoenix police will accept guns that people no longer want,” Howard said. “The guns will be tested and entered into NIBIN, which will allow us to compare them with known crime guns. In accordance with state law, the guns are then sold.”
NIBIN — National Integrated Ballistic Information Network — is a national computer database of firearms and related ballistic evidence. It was established by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and is shared by law-enforcement agencies across the country.
Pring told the Republic that he could have sold his gun at a pawn shop to get some money out of it, having shelled out $2,000 when he purchased them at the gun show, but said he thought turning the guns over to police made a more powerful statement.
It’s a statement that he hopes makes a difference in the years to come so that his son doesn’t have to grow up in a world where mass shootings are the norm.
“That way when he’s in Vegas when he’s 21, he doesn’t have to worry about getting shot at a music festival,” Pring said.
Republic reporter BrieAnna J. Frank contributed to this report.
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