Former Reporter from China Owns Oldest Gun Shop in US

The John Jovino Gun Shop, America’s oldest gun dealer, belongs to a man who used to work for China’s main Communist Party newspaper, according to Taiwan’s Central News Agency.

The firearms dealership on Grand Street in Manhattan’s Little Italy is now owned by a man who calls himself Gu Jiao. That’s the pen name used by Wu Jie, 65, when he was working as the Hong Kong correspondent for People’s Daily, an official organ of China’s Communist Party.

By the time Wu first visited the Jovino Gun Shop he had been in the US for a number of years and was working for one of New York City’s Chinese-language media. He had come to interview the shop’s owner for a story. Wu became friends with the owner and quit his reporter job to work at the store. When the owner retired Wu took over the business, becoming the first China-born person to own a gun shop in the US.

Wu’s birth in Shanghai and his former employment with a Communist Party newspaper posed obstacles in seeking to become licensed as a gun dealer despite the years he had spent in the US Army and the New York Police Department. Many background checks and blood and urine tests were required before Wu was approved.

The shop had been founded in 1911 by John Jovino and claims to be the nation’s oldest. Jovino sold it to the Imperato family in the 1920s. It became a local landmark because of a large replica of a revolver handing from its signage and because it appeared in the 1973 police drama Serpico and other movies and TV series. The shop received unwanted attention in 2003 when a Columbia University researcher found that 102 of the 11,700 guns identified as having been used in crimes had come from the shop.

Wu opposes President Obama’s efforts to tighten up on sales of assault weapons and gun licensing procedures in the wake of the San Hook Elementary School massacre. He subscribes to the old adage that “gun’s don’t kill people, people kill people.”

The shop’s business has already taken a hit from New York’s City’s recent tightening of gun laws, Wu says. It also lost much of its large volume when the New York City Police Department created its own internal firearms procurement office.

The new measures being pushed by Obama, even if implemented, won’t destroy his business, says Wu, because most of it still comes from the police department, federal agencies and foreign diplomats, says Wu.