Guns Don't Kill People, Irresponsible Gun Dealers Do

| Thu May 8, 2008 5:39 PM EDT

Eric Thompson sells guns on the Internet. Of course, you may already know that. After all, his Green Bay, Wisc.-based firm, TGSCOM Inc. (www.thegunsource.com), has had some high-profile clients, including Seng-Hui Cho, who massacered 33 classmates at Virginia Tech last year, and Stephen Kazmierczak, who killed five students at Northern Illinois University last February. And surely for this, Thompson feels sorry. But don't ask him to apologize for his business, for he's committed to placing firearms in the warm, living hands of as many customers as possible... at the lowest possible price.

Since the initial shock of learning he had played a supporting role in at least two school shootings, Thompson has turned infamy into a marketing strategy. In the spirit of there being no such thing as bad publicity, he's taken full advantage of opportunities to appear on television, including his recent FOX News sparring match with Paul Helmke of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. This followed Thompson's visit to Virginia Tech last month, where, almost a year to the day after the shootings, he spoke at an on-campus event sponsored by Students for Concealed Carry on Campus. A school spokesman called the visit "terribly offensive" and said "the organizers appear to be incredibly insensitive to the families of the victims who lost loved ones and to the injured students still recovering from this horrendous tragedy." But Thompson, who claims to have donated money to a Virginia Tech victims' fund, stands by his decision to appear at the university. It's all part of the "special responsibility" he's been given to "help change people's opinions."

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To that end, based on an email that appeared in my inbox this morning, Thompson appears to have hired Arena Strategy Group, a Republican-controlled PR firm in Wisconsin, to get out his message. The press release hails Thompson's decision to offer his entire stock of guns at cost, supposedly to allow more people to acquire them and therefore to be armed and ready the next time trouble knocks on their doors.

The release speaks for itself:

Most business owners are upset when they don't make a profit. Not Eric Thompson.
Thompson, owner of TGSCOM, Inc, the online firearms and sporting goods dealer that sold weapons and accessories to both the Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University shooters, couldn't be happier to have sold thousands of firearms without making a dime the past two weeks.

Thompson's regrettable tie to both campus shootings has compelled him to take an active role in helping to prevent future mass shootings. On April 23rd, Thompson launched www.gunsatcost.com and offered all in-stock firearms – which included over 5,400 types of guns – for two weeks without any markup in an effort to "give law-abiding citizens the tools to prevent tragedy."

"The moments between when a dangerous criminal threatens the safety of innocent lives and law enforcement arrives are so critical." said Thompson. "I am gratified I have been able to help so many law-abiding Americans buy a firearm at a discounted rate so they can protect themselves, their families and their entire community."

Thompson also recently visited the Virginia Tech campus at the request of the student group Students for Concealed Carry on Campus. While he was there, Thompson spoke about the importance of being able to carry a concealed weapon, including while on college campuses. He also met with friends of some of the shooting victims who share his belief that all qualified, licensed individuals should be able to carry a weapon for protection.

Thompson also partnered with the Students for Concealed Carry on Campus last month by supplying hundreds of holsters for their empty-holster protest. During the protest, thousands of students across the nation wore empty holsters to show their objection to the state laws and university policies that prevent law-abiding citizens from carrying concealed weapons on campus.

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