SPRING HILL - There's a new gun store in town and the owner is a 21-year veteran of the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.
James Serrano has a strong knowledge of guns and extensive training and hopes to pass that along to his customers.
He opened Guns N Company in the UHL Plaza just east of County Line Road on Sept. 10.
Inside his neatly stocked gun shop in Spring Hill, Serrano explains why purchasing a gun from a reputable dealer is the safest way to own a weapon.
He's offing concealed weapons classes through the shop every other Saturday. The classes incorporate NRA-approved classroom hours and practice on the gun range in Port Richey. Students will meet all their necessary requirements to apply for their concealed weapons permit when the class is completed.
Serrano hopes to add more classes as the shop builds recognition in the community.
The well organized storefront is filled with a strong sampling of firearms, accessories and ammunition for every kind of gun enthusiast.
"We have guns for sports enthusiasts, those who like to hunt, and assault weapons," Serrano said.
Serrano is mindful of the public debate surround guns and advocates for safe ownership.
"Unfortunately when you get those things happening like the school shootings, people get fearful," Serrano said.
He is in favor of stricter gun laws to protect the public from those who shouldn't be licensed to carry a firearm. The panic, he said, comes from what he believes is a fallacy that the government will come in and take away a person's right to bear arms.
The purchase of a gun is strongly regulated, he added. Background checks are done on every gun purchase. A three-day waiting period is required and multiple purchases are immediately reported to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
"We're heavily regulated and that's good because it makes sure we're compliant," he said.
Serrano hopes to build a solid business model that fulfills the needs of his customers.
Guns N Company stocks a strong sampling of different items, new and used of different styles. Serrano works with some of the biggest names in guns, allowing him to purchase a wide assortment of new firearms that he can then sell at market price.
He also stocks a strong inventory of used pieces, including hard-to-find WWII-era rifles and shotguns. He has unique items, as well, such as a small pistol set inside a belt buckle.
Serrano expects to change his inventory as he comes to understand the demands of the local market. So far, his customers tend to buy mostly ammunition, unique items, and traditional target guns.
Doug Bailey is now a recurring customer after stumbling on Guns N Company by accident. A previous shop in the same plaza had attracted his attention from the road. "I realized it was closed and then saw this one," he said.
Bailey, who shoots a .22 for practice at a gun range, came in to purchase a supply of ammunition.
Serrano understands his is not the only gun shop in Hernando County. But he isn't worried about competition and hopes to work with the other shops. Understanding the concept that there is enough prosperity for everyone, Serrano looks to find unique niches his shop can offer. What he doesn't have, and what might be a niche of a competitor, he is more than happy to refer.
Guns N Company is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. They also have a comprehensive website with inventory for purchase and information about upcoming classes.