Gun Store Opens Near Suburban School, Prompting Protests in Community

PHOTO: A protest outside a McLean, Va., gun store on Sept. 26, 2015. NVAFAM/YouTube
A protest outside a McLean, Va., gun store on Sept. 26, 2015.

Parents in a Virginia suburb are protesting the opening of a gun store due to its proximity to a local elementary school.

Some students at Franklin Sherman Elementary School in McLean, Virginia, can spot Nova Firearms right outside classroom windows and their parents argue the gun store's location is sending the wrong message, especially at a time when there have been a number of high-profile incidents around the country involving gun violence.

"That gun store is going to make my community less safe," said Deb Lavoy, whose daughter is a sixth grader at Franklin Sherman Elementary School. "I do not wish to deny the landlord his rent, but neither do I want more guns in my neighborhood, or a gun store as part of my daughter’s daily experience."

The store owners countered that they are complying with federal and state laws and are defending their right to remain open.

"I have every right to be here just as any other small business," store co-owner Rachel Dresser told ABC News. "We are transparent in what we do. We just needed more retail space so we expanded here."

Fairfax County Supervisor John Foust, whose district includes McLean, is urging the owners of Nova Firearms to move the store.

"It is simply antagonistic to our community and frightening to concerned parents to locate a store selling firearms and live ammunition literally within 60 seconds walking distance to a school entrance," Foust said.

While he conceded that Nova Firearms is allowed to sell guns at the current location near the school, he added, "this is an issue of judgment, not legality."

PHOTO: The Nova Firearms store opened to controversy in McLean, Va.NVAFAM/YouTube
The Nova Firearms store opened to controversy in McLean, Va.

The store's owners relocated the shop near the elementary school after a failed attempt to expand at its previous location in Virginia. Dresser, and her co-owner James Gates, said they needed a larger location in part to offer gun-safety classes for both adults and children.

Members of the community balked when the store opened and staged a protest a week ago. The fight is also getting heated online as more than 2,000 people have signed a petition to kick-out Nova Firearms from its current location.

Even locals who do not have children at the school expressed their concern.

"I'm outraged by this. It shows poor judgment," Dr. Bita Motesharrei, a local doctor, told ABC News. "It attracts the wrong crowd."

Meanwhile, gun-rights supporters are rallying behind Nova Firearms, saying it's not a threat to the McLean community and the owners are within their legal rights to sell guns on a street that also houses an auto body shop and a bank.

Vance Gore, the PTA president at Franklin Sherman Elementary School, has two children at the school and said "the community at large is still grappling with the issue."

"I would say many parents are deeply troubled by the opening of the gun store right next to the school," Gore said.