Gun Store Owner Credited With Thwarting Mass Shooting At Ohio University

by Chad D. Baus

John Downs Bait & Guns
Gun Store Owner John Downs, Credited With Thwarting Mass Shooting At Ohio University
Buckeye Firearms Foundation
Buckeye Firearms Foundation

Ohio – -( Hocking County Sheriff Lanny North is crediting a gun store owner in Logan for stopping the sale of a gun to a man the sheriff believes was preparing to commit a mass shooting.

From WTTE (Fox Columbus):

“I believe he did prevent a mass shooting that was probably going to occur at Ohio University in Athens,” said Sheriff Lanny North.

John Downs, who has owned Downs Bait and Guns for 28 years, said he was working in the store Monday afternoon when a man came in wanting to buy a long gun. Downs said 25-year-old James Howard passed a background check. But he’d asked some questions and made some statements that Downs found suspicious and indicated he may want to harm himself and others.

“There was red flag for me, I am like , I won’t allow that I don’t want that to be on me,” Downs said. So he refused to sell him the gun or any gear.

Downs said Howard was angry when he left the store and made some threats, but that he told Howard he had a right not to sell him a firearm. “He started cussing me and this and that, before he left he said you don’t know who I am. I just said, you know what bud, I have a really bad feeling about this, I just can’t sell you the gun.”

According to Downs, he locked the store, hid customers in a back room and called 911 when Howard returned to the store 90 minutes later. Deputies tracked Howard to a nearby Walmart “where he was buying ‘survival gear and an enormous amount of ammunition.’ North said it tells him that Howard had something sinister in mind, ‘something that was going to take a lot of lives. Apparently he was frustrated about something that happened at OU in Athens.'”

Again from the article:

Deputies said Howard was purchasing camouflage clothing, gloves, and ammunition when he was arrested without incident at Walmart. They conducted a search warrant on Howard’s car and said they found ” a .22 Caliber rifle, multiple receipts, miscellaneous paperwork involving medical and mental health.” Authorities said Howard had purchased another weapon at an Athens gun store.

Ohio University Police Chief Andrew Powers said he applauds the quick thinking of the gun store owner in Logan to refuse the sale and let authorities know he was concerned about Howard. Powers said Howard had withdrawn from OU on Monday and later shoved a staff member at Bird Arena. Sources said that staff member was an assistant hockey coach.

Powers said Howard had reportedly told a friend he was going to buy a gun.

More on that note from Editor Bob Owens:

Unfortunately, the NICS database that gun control groups pretend is some sort of a magic shield against bad people getting guns is actually very porous.

The National InstaCheck System (NICS) is nothing more than several databases, and the information in those databases is only as good as what state and local law enforcement and mental health professions provide. As these agencies are typically overworked and underfunded, the information in these databases is often incomplete, months late, or simply isn’t uploaded at all.

There are literally millions of people like Howard, who should be classified as “prohibited persons” in the NICS database, but are not. NICS isn’t useless, but it isn’t going to stop mass killers from acquiring weapons. It’s failed to do precisely that in Aurora, Charleston, Virginia Tech, and countless other incidents.

Owens observes “Three things stop people intent on mass killings. Proactive law enforcement, ethical gun dealers like John Downs, and lawfully armed citizens who refuse to allow their communities to be soft targets.

“We need more of each, not less.”

I couldn’t agree more.

According to separate coverage in Ohio University’s student newspaper, The Post, Howard has a previous involuntary admission to a mental health facility. This should, theoretically, have classified him as a prohibited person in the FBI’s NICS background check system. Yet, as reported above, Howard was able to pass a background check, proving the fallacy of claims by gun ban extremists that more background checks will prevent mass shootings.

Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Secretary, BFA PAC Vice Chairman, and an NRA-certified firearms instructor. He is the editor of, which received the Outdoor Writers of Ohio 2013 Supporting Member Award for Best Website.

Buckeye Firearms Association is a grassroots political action committee dedicated to defending and advancing the right of Ohio citizens to own and use firearms for all legal activities. Visit:

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And just in case he made it as far as the campus, as long as the young adults there at college are allowed to carry, then someone there that is legally carrying could possibly stop him too.


Quick reasonable thinking saved lives. Just remember to the insane, “Everybody else is crazy.”


Good on the shop owner for being aware and ethical, as most firearms dealers are. I went into a local shop where I do some business a while back and everyone there was still talking about the guy who had just left empty handed. Apparently, he had wanted to test fire a 12 gauge shotgun right behind the store. Red flag!!!!! Perhaps this disturbed young man had been traumatized by other students invading his safe space on campus.

2nd Amender

Here is an example of a “heads up” situation……….

This store owner knew nothing of this individual prior to his coming into the store, but in listening and scrutinizing what the individual was saying, the store owner realized quite correctly…..’this guy ain’t right’….

How many of the mass murders in recent history could have been avoided if family, friends, and even casual acquaintances of the perpetrators, had been more vigilant? Or is it against the policy of “political correctness” to ask someone, “are you alright, (fill in the blank)?


A real American hero. he put his country and fellow citizens ahead of profits and put himself at risk to be the first target. Big business needs to take note and notice and learn. A hero in my book along with all the service men and women, police and national guard included are the real heros in our nation, not a football player or rapper etc. We need more men and women like him to stand up for our nation and protect our gun rights even if it means not selling a gun where something really isn’t right at all.… Read more »