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PORTLAND, CT – A Connecticut gun store owner, Army veteran, and staunch patriot has taken on the state’s restrictive gun laws by setting his sights on building a new facility that promises to help loyal customers exercise their Second Amendment rights in a big way.
Rob Pizzi, Jr., owner of the highly successful Central Connecticut Arms in Portland, CT, will soon be breaking ground on a new location that will include not only a gun shop, but a restaurant, rifle ranges, pistol ranges, archery ranges, and axe throwing facilities.
Pizzi’s love of guns and the Constitutional right to use them began when he was child in North Branford, CT, where grew up enjoying hunting, fishing, and trapping.
His grandfather, a veteran who fought on the beaches at Normandy on D-Day, was a major influence in his life.
Pizzi’s love and admiration for his grandfather, and his passion for guns, led him at the age of 17 to join the military as an infantryman. He was also an armorer in the Army.
After Pizzi left the military, he again followed in his grandfather’s footsteps, this time as a car salesman. Pizzi’s grandfather was a car salesman for 40 years, and Pizzi, having learned the business at his grandfather’s knee as a child, sold cars for 30 years.
Unlike the cliché and stereotypical ‘car salesman out for a buck,’ Pizzi committed himself to putting customers first, making them feel welcome and addressing all their needs.
Long hours at work in car sales did take their toll on his marriage, family life, and his ability to continue his beloved shooting sports. Pizzi eventually came to a turning point where he decided to slow down at his work in favor of what he felt he was missing, but he never slowed down on his commitment to customer service.
This commitment was bolstered after an experience at a sporting goods store when he was shopping for a gun after getting out of the military. He found himself ignored for half an hour, and then when ‘help’ arrived, the young sales employee treated him very condescendingly.
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He told Law Enforcement Today:
“I was so turned off that when I walked out of the store that day I said, ‘You know, some day I’m going to open a gun store. I’m going to be a gun dealer someday.’”
And later, in 2012, he became just that.
Pizzi obtained his FFL and sold guns out of his home, while still selling cars at work. Word-of-mouth promotion led to a wildly popular home business, with Pizzi selling 40 to 50 guns per month.
In 2017, after extensive market research and location scouting, Pizzi located a garage space in Portland, CT, where he built Central Connecticut Arms. He left a six-figure income from car sales to run the store full-time.
This was a big change, indeed, but what did not change was Pizzi’s dedication to serving customers well.
He told us:
“It’s paramount. Whatever you are doing, on the phone with the state, juggling with one hand, when a customer walks in, you greet them and tell them you will be right there. Nobody gets ignored. Nobody.”
“If it [a customer service issue] gets to me, right or wrong, I’m going to side with the customer. That’s my business philosophy….
“I’m going to give away the store and do whatever I got to do to make the person happy.”
As one satisfied customer said in a promotional video:
“He’s not going to try to sell you something that you don’t want.
“The way instructions and information is passed down is straight and to the point.”
Such a philosophy has clearly paid off with a loyal customer base, since, just a few years later, the store having record-breaking months.
Most employees at the store are military and/or law enforcement veterans, and Central Connecticut Arms is one of the largest blue label Glock dealers in New England, selling guns at a discount to military and law enforcement. The store also offers a five percent discount to all current and retired military and first responders.
But the store has outgrown its space, and Pizzi is looking to give customers more of what they want and need.
And what customers in Connecticut truly need is a way to exercise their Second Amendment rights in the face of Connecticut’s severely restrictive gun laws.
For example, Connecticut requires an ammunition certificate as well as a gun permit merely to purchase ammunition. In addition, Connecticut has a ban on so-called “assault weapons,” which, of course, includes the most popular models of sporting rifles. The state also limits magazine capacity to ten rounds.
Pizzi told us:
“I just want people to be able to exercise their Second Amendment right, and I’m so passionate about that.
“To me, it means everything.”
At his store’s current location, Pizzi is already making sure that customers get what they need, within the letter of the restrictive gun laws.
He told us:
“You do what you gotta do. That’s why we’re the good guys. We follow the laws, and when they make crazy laws, we just find ways to work within the laws.
“That’s the difference between us and the criminals. The criminals don’t give a shit about laws. You can make all the laws you want and they’re not going to follow them. That’s why they’re criminals.”
However, at his new planned facility, Pizzi told us, there will be even bigger and better ways for customers to enjoy their Constitutional rights.
He told us:
“The new place is going to be an all-inclusive destination. It’s going to have something for everybody.
“It’s going to have a bunch of different things to bring people in, and hopefully, if they’re not into shooting sports, get them into shooting sports.”
The 30,000 square foot facility, expected to be completed in the summer of 2022, will boast 5,000 square feet of retail space.
For those who prefer archery and bow hunting, there will be an archery pro shop and a 40-yard indoor archery range.
There will also be 20 indoor pistol and rifle shooting lanes, including 5 100-yard rifle lanes rated for .50 BMG. Cameras will be located downrange so shooters do not have to pull the target back to review their shots.
Also onsite will be a restaurant and lounge areas, and for those seeking perhaps something a little different, there will be axe throwing lanes.
VR simulator training rooms, as well as a 2000 square foot shoot house for Simunition training, will be housed in the upstairs portion of the building.
Arms manufacturing will also be done onsite, and rentals will be available, including machine gun rentals.
All in all, the new Central Connecticut Arms facility promises to make anti-gun activists wring their hands in despair.
But the customer base? They will surely come, and in droves.
Pizzi has built up a large and loyal base of satisfied customers, from citizens just starting out on their first gun purchase, to grateful law enforcement personnel and military veterans who give him patches to put on his Wall of Heroes.
In fact, in the last year and a half, he has seen gun sales skyrocket by 250 percent at Central Connecticut Arms.
Having already established his own highly successful way of standing for the Second Amendment, and against laws and principles he does not believe in, Pizzi has a message for those who are frustrated by restrictive edicts:
“Don’t give up.”
“You live within the constraints of the laws that you have. Don’t ever get disgusted, don’t ever get discouraged. Everyone says, ‘I can’t wait to live this city or state.’
“You know, someday I’ll probably leave this state, but until I do, it’s still my state. And if you don’t like the way it is, you fight for it. You go out there and you lobby for the people that will fight your fight, and you elect the officials that will fight for the things that are more to your beliefs and your likings.
“That’s our country. That’s why it’s so great, right?
“Like I always say, anybody can bitch about a problem, but come up with a solution. If you don’t have a solution, you’re just a whiner, and nobody likes a whiner.”
“Look at me, I could retire tomorrow…. I could leave tomorrow and move down south, but I’m not. That’s not me.
“You just gotta fight for it.”
“Don’t be discouraged, stay positive, don’t let them beat you into submission, exercise your right, and double down on your right.”
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