Amidst a fair amount of controversy, a new gun shop has opened in Arlington, Virginia, and you might be surprised at who is behind the counter.
Last weekend, 16-year-old Lauren Pratte took part in the grand opening of NOVA Armory, a business that is, for all intents and purposes, hers.
This story from arlnow.com says Pratte had long wanted to create and run her own business, and she chose a gun shop because of her father’s experience as a gun store owner.
“When I brought up the idea to my dad, he was really supportive and he was all for it, willing to help me open this and run it. I’m very excited about the future for this,” Pratte said in an interview with ARLnow.
Since she’s only 16, her father, Dennis Pratte, holds the federal firearms sales license for the store and applied for and signed the store’s certificate of occupancy.
Dennis has said that NOVA “is a family owned and operated business—and more specifically a female, minority-owned business.” Dennis told ARLnow that Lauren, a high school junior, wants to go to law school and eventually become a corporate attorney.
Pratte is also hoping America’s firearms boom will continue for some time and provide NOVA with a solid future.
She said she will never be working at the store alone and will always have her dad or another licensed gun seller with her at all times.
The gun shop is the first in Arlington, aside from a pawn shop on Lee Highway, the story says, and nearby residents and local politicians expressed concerns about the retailer opening in their community over the past few months.
State lawmakers even when as far as to send a letter to Pratte’s landlord, saying, “We strongly encourage you to reconsider your decision to grant a lease to NOVA Armory.”
“In response to the lawmaker’s letter, Dennis Pratte issued a news release on March 4 that included a prepared statement by Lauren Pratte warning opponents that the store’s team of attorneys is ‘keeping a watchful eye on local officials and local activists who are trying to harm the business, particularly the relationship between NOVA Armory and its landlord.’
“Lauren Pratte, as quoted in the news release, also said the actions of ‘local crazies’ opposed to the opening of the store could find themselves liable for “tortious interference” in a contract between the gun store and the landlord. ‘If you’ve posted on Facebook, agitated people on the local community’s online forum, made harassing phone calls, or sent angry emails designed to interfere with our business relationship with our landlord, you are on my attorneys’ list,’ Lauren Pratte said in the prepared statement. ‘So if you don’t see NOVA Armory open for business, you better worry about seeing us in court.’”