Gun City owner says 'firearms and Muslims not the issue' as new Christchurch store meets criticism

The owner of Gun City says "firearms and Muslims are not the issue" as he prepares to open a new store in Christchurch.

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David Tipple told 1 NEWS Gun City has a lot of Muslim customers. Source: 1 NEWS

Gun City Sockburn’s sudden identity has taken its neighbours by surprise - including residents, shop owners and schools.

David Tipple was asked by 1 NEWS if some may find it "insensitive" he is opening the Sockburn store close to Muslim communities affected by the Christchurch mosque terrorist attacks in March.

"Firearms and Muslims is not what this issue is about," he responded. "There's all sorts of segments that will be decided from time to time to be looked down upon by another segment of society.

"It's been people of certain sexual orientation, its' been people of religion and at the moment it's the poor old firearms owner who's being looked down upon by a section of society."

He continued by saying that Gun City has "a lot of Muslim customers".

"I've just come back from a Muslim country, that's got nothing to do with why we should or shouldn't do business," he said.

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Some are questioning the timing of the new business, following the mosque attacks there. Source: 1 NEWS

Mr Tipple also said plans for the Christchurch store were in place two years ago, well before the attacks took place.

"We spotted this site, were excited about the visibility of it and had success in shows where we'd put our product in front of a far wider range of people than just firearms owners."

Resource consent for the store was granted in January, and didn’t need to be publicly notified.

Some in the Sockburn community have voiced concerns over the timing of the Gun City store opening.

"It's bad taste so soon after the March 15 event," community advocate Mark Peters told 1 NEWS. "They could have ideally postponed opening it for a few months, but the gun store owner has invested heavily and needs payback.

"It's unfortunate for residents but great for hunters based there." 

Canterbury Chamber of commerce CEO Leeann Watson said she can see both sides of the argument.

"Guns in Christchurch is a pretty contentious issue and I want to acknowledge that," she said. "But it's really important, however, businesses continue to invest in Christchurch and this is an example of a business that has done that."

In a statement, the Christchurch City Council said whilst it appreciates the sensitivity, there is no regulation in place that specifically controls these types of activities.

The store is set to open next month.