DALTON – A few days after the shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Bill Corker said the issues of gun ownership, firearms regulations and even the interpretation of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution has become even more politicized – something he did not think was possible.
“Defend yourself. That’s my opinion,” Corker said on a Saturday morning earlier this month while standing behind a display case inside C & C Armory, LLC. Corker and his business partner C.J. Cornell own the shop which buys, sells, trades for and services guns.
“A gun is a tool, and it’s like any other tool,” Corker said. “You could take them away, and someone could use a knife. Look at what the guy did with the fertilizer in a van,” he added, mentioning the 1995 bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City. “Those things are readily available.”
Corker understands how the people on both sides of the gun control debate will likely be unhappy with any actions or inactions taken following those two recent shootings. The topic does not receive much discussion inside C & C Armory, because most patrons are solidly pro-gun.
“That’s why I’m into this,” Corker said, holding a Colt Model 1861 revolver he had removed from the display case. It was priced at $2,000 and had been manufactured 158 years ago. “Fully functioning, this is a piece of history,” he said. “It’s been through the Civil War.”
Two brothers, older men in their 60s, entered the store in search of a holster. One of the men said he had modified his .44 magnum handgun with a scope and wanted a holster that would allow him to carry both gun and ammunition. Corker took the man’s name and number, told him this would be a custom item, and he would call him after checking with the store’s suppliers.
“He’s probably going to hunt with it or something,” Corker said after the brothers had left the premises.
C & C Armory opened for business on Sept. 1, 2016, in the basement of Cornell’s house in the Rivercrest section of Tunkhannock.
“It was convenient at the time,” Corker said. He lived within walking distance of the basement enterprise.
The two men work second jobs. Cornell is an emergency medical technician for Commonwealth Health System. Corker had worked for a time inside Dalton Lumber’s Do it Center, on U.S. routes 6 and 11.
Earlier this year, when he stopped in to see about picking up some part-time work at the Do it Center, Corker noticed a commercial space was available in the front of the building. In March, the owners of C & C Armory agreed to lease the store vacated by Betty’s Sewing Room when it was relocated to downtown Dalton.
“Business is a lot better than when we were in the basement,” said Corner, who again works at the Do it Center. “We’ve done way more business in the four months here than we ever did in the two years in the basement.”
The gun shop is open every day but Sunday. Cornell staffs the store from Monday to Wednesday. Corker is there for a few hours on Tuesday and works full shifts from Thursday to Saturday.
Guns are prominently displayed in the store, but sales of firearms are a relatively smart part of the business, according to Corker. Service is the largest revenue segment, followed by purchases of consumables, such as ammunition, cleaning supplies, targets and other things sold with some regularity.
“Both of us did college courses for gunsmithing,” Corker said. “That’s our heart and soul. Everything’s throwaway nowadays. Nobody fixes anything.”
C & C Armory does not have a license to manufacture firearms. Corker and Cornell cannot mill pieces of metal into gun components, but they are allowed to put on replacement parts, switch out sights and clean the weapons.
Corker said the two partners were assembling a pair of AR-15-style rifles for two customers. The shop’s license, he explained, did not allow them to assemble and offer the rifles for retail sale.
“If someone orders the parts, buys them and then asks us to build it and pays us to put it together, we can do that,” Corker said.
The store is not all about firearms. The wall just inside the entrance contains pegs which hold lures and other fishing products. Some of the lures are made by Uncle Bub’s Baits in Hershey. Custom fishing rods, manufactured by a man in Benton, are also available.
A small refrigerator was recently added to the shop after multiple customers asked to purchase live bait.
“If that takes off, well, we might get a bigger fridge,” Corker said.
Bill Corker, co-owner of C & C Armory in Dalton, takes inventory in the section of the shop stocked with targets, ammunition, cleaning supplies and related products. “The consumables part of it is a lot more important part of the business than selling firearms,” Corker said, because a properly maintained gun can last for many years.
Bill Corker, gunsmith and co-owner of C & C Armory in Dalton, stands behind the bench where firearms are serviced. Earlier this year, the store was relocated from Tunkhannock, where it had operated since its founding in 2016.
Bill Corker holds a Colt Model 1861 revolver being offered for sale at C & C Armory in Dalton. Corker and his business partner C.J. Cornell started the business in 2016. Earlier this year, they relocated it from Tunkhannock.