April 24, 2008 -- The owner of an Internet-based firearms store that sold a gun to Virginia Tech shooter Seung-Hui Cho says he is now offering a discount for students who want to carry guns on campus to protect themselves. The company, TGSCOM Inc., also sold two 9mm Glock magazines to Steven Kazmierczak, who killed five people at Northern Illinois University earlier this year.
The owner of TGSCOM, Eric Thompson, announced today that for the next two weeks he will sell firearms at cost in the hopes of targeting students who may be on a tight budget. Customers will have over 5,400 different kinds of firearms from which to choose.
"This offer allows students and people who might not have otherwise been able to afford a weapon to purchase one at a hefty discount and at a significant expense to myself," Thompson told ABCNews.com.
A spokesperson for Virginia Tech said that Thompson's remarks and offer are "incredibly insensitive to the families of the victims who lost loved ones, and to the injured students still recovering from this horrendous tragedy," said Larry Hincker, the Associate Vice President for University Relations.
Gun control advocates also call Thompson's special offer "shameless".
"He's arming the criminals and then telling the rest of us to buy guns so we can protect ourselves from the criminals he's armed," said Peter Hamm, communications director for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
While gun control advocates acknowledge that Thompson has a right to make this offer, they say this is yet another example of the gun industry trying to profit from gun violence.
"What this shows is that to the gun industry, gun violence is at best an abstract concept and at worst a business opportunity," said Josh Sugarmann, the Executive Director of the Violence Policy Center.
"No matter how these products are used against citizens, the answer is always more guns when in fact these problems stem from the fact that there are too many guns out there already," Sugarmann told ABCNews.com.
Thompson says that the fact that the college campus killers Cho and Kazmierczak bought products from his site has only made him more adamant that students should be allowed to legally carry guns on campus.
"The next news story I want to be involved in is how I sold a firearm to someone who helped stop a mass murderer. By forgoing a profit, I hope to help give law-abiding citizens the tools to prevent tragedy," he said.
Hamm says Thompson's logic angers him. "He's so upset about his sales that he wants more sales," Hamm told ABCNews.com.
Thompson acknowledges that many private colleges ban guns on campus.
"The second amendment still stands," said Thompson. "I don't see why state laws and university policy should dictate and override people's right to defend themselves."
Thompson will be in Blacksburg, Virginia tomorrow speaking to Virginia Tech students who are in favor of allowing people to carry concealed weapons on campus. Current Virginia law prohibits carrying concealed weapons on college campuses.
Virginia Tech officials say that while Thompson certainly has a right to say what he wants, they are stunned that he would actually visit the school to tout guns on campus.
"Free speech is a hallmark of university life," said Hincker. "Still, I find it terribly offensive to learn that the gun-seller of the weapons used in the Virginia Tech campus murders would set foot on this campus."