CTR Firearms in the Janesville Gazette

Janesville auto repair shop now sells guns, too

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

JANESVILLE—Walk into CTR Automotive with a car that’s backfiring, and you might walk out later with a smaller machine that’s built to fire bullets out of the front.

Earlier this month, the auto repair shop on Janesville’s north side opened CTR Firearms, a 600-square-foot gun shop inside the same Woodlane Drive building where mechanics service and repair cars and trucks.   

One of CTR’s auto mechanics, Chris Endres, and his wife, Charity Endres, opened the shop inside the auto garage to sell mainly handguns and tactical-style rifles—both types of guns that have seen growing popularity in Wisconsin.

The gun shop is a freshly renovated room with store lighting, floor displays, guns on the wall and guns in glass counter displays. It’s in a corner of the CTR building that’s walled off from the 5,000-square-foot auto shop. It looks like a storefront gun shop anywhere, stocked with guns made by major firearms companies such as Sig Sauer, Ruger, Glock and Smith & Wesson.  

In one glass case, the shop had handgun silencers. A few of the rifles hanging in racks along the walls are so-called “short-barreled” rifles.

Another case had a fully automatic Uzi submachine gun. Its price tag: $9,999.

“It shoots really fast. I mean, it goes through ammo very fast,” said Chris, who was clad in auto mechanic’s blues.

Because they sell fully automatic guns, short-barreled tactical rifles and silencers, the Endreses are required under federal rules to sell out of a storefront. They also must follow special steps under their gun dealer’s licensing and registration through the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Those rules include that the Endreses must be listed at the Rock County Sheriff’s Office as a carrier of machine guns.

“We don’t really see a market for fully automatic guns. For us, it’s mostly the concealed carry (handgun) market and tactical-type guns,” said Chris, who is a registered shooting range safety officer and a trained, certified pistol instructor.  

Wisconsin laws don’t require gun sellers to have state or local licenses.

But Chris said he and Charity’s gun shop is one of about only four or five registered storefront gun shops, although he said websites such as GunBroker.com show about 20 local sellers of firearms.

Many of those shops, Endres said, are out of people’s homes, and those sellers have more restrictions on what kinds of guns they can sell.

The Endreses said they know for sure CTR is the only place locally where guns are sold inside an automotive garage.

“From working through the ATF (on federal licensing), we’re aware that there are only one or two other car shops in the country that sell guns like we do. For us, it made sense. We wanted a visible storefront and a sign. Plus, car guys tend to like guns,” Chris said.

Charity, who was an employee at CTR Automotive and a former fitness club operator, runs the gun shop, and Chris said he juggles his time between the auto garage and the gun shop.

Charity, who wears a necklace with a silver pendant shaped like a pistol, said she’s already gotten used to people wandering into the gun shop and assuming that because she’s female, she must be the shop secretary—not the owner.

“As a woman, I get bypassed by gun customers. It’s funny because when I worked in the car shop, I’d get bypassed the same way,” she said.

She’s a licensed seller and also a concealed handgun carrier.

Earlier in his life, Chris didn’t like guns.

“I used to be seriously anti-gun. When my first-born was little, I wouldn’t even allow Nerf guns around the house,” he said. “But if you look around you, the world has changed.”

Charity said until a few years ago, “I was that woman who was scared of guns.”

Her feelings about guns changed after she had a few unsettling experiences running the women’s fitness gym she used to operate near Traxler Park.

The gym had late and early hours, and Charity was often alone at work. She recalled one time she was opening the gym early in the morning when a male stranger came in with a “fake” story about needing money. She said another man would show up overnight and loiter in the gym without working out. She felt threatened by the man.

Another morning, she was leading a group of women in an outdoor workout near Hedberg Public Library when she heard sirens. She said she learned later that police had responded to a reported purse snatching nearby.

Since then, she’s opted to carry a concealed handgun.

The Endreses said they’d like to see cross-pollination in sales between the automotive shop’s customers and the gun shop, but Charity said she doesn’t aggressively ply every customer who comes into CTR for an auto repair.

“If you want to come in, we’re here,” she said.

A few of CTR Automotive’s longtime customers have said they’re a little gun shy of CTR Firearms, and a few of them have voiced anti-gun sentiments, Chris said.

“I don’t think we’ve lost an existing auto customer over the gun shop being here. We’ve been pleasantly surprised. Some people come in with a car, and they come in the shop right away. But we have had (automotive) customers who’ve come in and took a step back. They’ll say, ‘Oh. You have … a gun store here,” Chris said.  

Chris said at the end of each day, he and his wife remove all of the shop’s guns from the wall racks and glass cabinets and lock them overnight in a safe in the automotive garage. It takes about 40 minutes a day to move the dozens of guns between the safe and the display areas.

It’s an extra safeguard against burglary and firearm theft that the Endreses said some other shops might not take.

“I do that for one main reason,” Chris said. “I don’t want to have someone come to me six months from now and tell me a 6-year-old child shot themselves with a gun that went missing from this shop.”