Smart Gun Shop Owner Refuses Customer, Possibly Preventing a Mass Shooting

"I won't allow that; I don't want that to be on me."

A gun shop owner in Logan, Ohio is being credited by local law enforcement for potentially foiling a planned mass shooting. 

John Downs is the owner of Downs Bait and Guns and explained that last Monday, he refused to sell a gun to 25-year-old customer James Howard even though he passed a background check. But because Howard made some odd statements that sounded suspicious, Downs refused to sell him a long rifle. 

"There was red flag for me," Downs said. "I won't allow that; I don't want that to be on me."

Howard left the store angry but returned about an hour later sending Downs and his customers to lock themselves in the back room and make the store appear to be closed.

Once law enforcement was alerted, the Hocking County sheriff's department was able to track Howard to a nearby Walmart and found him buying "survival gear and an enormous amount of ammunition." Sheriff Lanny North said they searched the man's car and found a .22 caliber rifle and medical paperwork involving mental health issues. They also found a receipt showing Howard purchased a gun from another gun store.

Authorities at Ohio University, in nearby Athens, say that Howard had withdrawn from the school that same Monday and had also shoved the assistant coach of his hockey team. Details of that altercation haven't been disclosed.

Downs told police that Howard was asking him about living off the land and finding a place in the woods where he could not be found, but not so far off that his parents couldn't find his car.

According to, a Hocking County grand jury is considering pursuing the case. 

Meanwhile, the shop's Facebook page is filling up with messages of thankfulness for Downs' quick thinking.

If indeed Howard had a terrible plot in mind when seeking these weapons, passing a background check was his means and he did so, twice. This doesn't bode well for President Obama, who constantly stands atop his soapbox calling for stronger background checks, assuring the gun-fearing public that this will keep bad guys from getting guns. When in fact, it's another good guy with a gun that stopped a bad guy with a gun; no blood was shed and no rights were threatened.

But don't expect a commendation for this guy.