Barbara Shelly

Shawnee robbery victimized a small business that happens to sell guns

A law enforcement officer guards the scene of a shooting at She's a Pistol, LLC, a gun shop in Shawnee, Kan, after an owner was killed and three suspects wounded in a botched robbery Friday.
A law enforcement officer guards the scene of a shooting at She's a Pistol, LLC, a gun shop in Shawnee, Kan, after an owner was killed and three suspects wounded in a botched robbery Friday. The Associated Press

Let’s not turn the tragedy that left a man dead at a Shawnee gun shop Friday into a gun safety argument.

An attempted robbery at the shop, She’s a Pistol, went horribly wrong shortly after 2 p.m., leaving the owner dead and three suspects wounded.

I’ve seen some on-line comments to the effect of, “Where was the good guy with a gun?” This is, of course, a follow up to NRA leader Wayne LaPierre’s that “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” But there’s no purpose in going there.

The shop that was robbed, She’s a Pistol, is a family-run business. It specializes in gun sales to women and offered gun-safety and self-defense classes. Whatever you think about the availability of handguns, these are helpful, valuable services.

According to the mayor of Shawnee and people from nearby businesses, owners Jon and Becky Bieker were generous, hard-working, community-oriented people. Jon, 44, died in the gunfire that erupted when robbers entered their shop. One of them reportedly struck Becky Bieker in the face before the shooting began.

Their business was unusual only in that it sold a product that is both widespread and controversial, and off-limits to people of certain ages and life histories. You want responsible people owning gun shops, and by all account the Biekers fit that bill.

At the time of the robbery, they would have been going about their business. Because you own a gun shop doesn’t mean you are constantly on alert, locked and loaded and waiting for robbers to burst through the door. In fact, one might expect a gun shop to be at lesser risk of an invasion like the one on Friday.

Among the news stories I dread the most are accounts of ordinary people being harmed as they go about their work. We’ve seen it in Kansas City with robberies at fast-food restaurants, barber shops, convenience stores and auto shops. It just shouldn’t happen. And I always wonder what was going through the suspects’ minds, if they are even capable of coherent thinking.

What did the robbers of She’s a Pistol think was inside that shop that was worth risking lives for? Most small businesses don’t carry much cash, and the business of reselling stolen weapons is fraught with peril.

This is a tragedy for the Bieker family and the Shawnee business community. Condolences to all.

To reach Barbara Shelly, call 816-234-4594 or send email to bshelly@kcstar.com. On Twitter @bshelly.

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