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Johnson County Gun Shop Owner Achieves Dream In Wake Of Tragedy

Kyle Palmer

Becky Bieker admits it's bittersweet. 

She's about to achieve what she and her husband Jon Bieker had been working towards for years — a dream, a lifetime goal.

And in its own way, she says, a small "win" in an ongoing battle. 

A battle she's been fighting since January, when Jon was gunned down in a robbery attempt at the old She's A Pistol location in Shawnee, Kansas.

"It's about not letting four people who committed a heinous crime to hold us down, run us out of business," she said.

Notice the "us." Becky admits she still thinks of She's A Pistol as a joint venture. An equal partnership now solely owned by her. 

She's excited to see She's A Pisol's loyal customers come flocking to the gun shop's new location on Quivira Road near 64th Terrace, which has its grand opening Friday and Saturday. This store's actually a bit smaller than the old one on Nieman Road, but Bieker thinks this one is in a better location. 

"Some of our old customers have already come by, and then they come in you can see they just stand there for a second and a big grin comes across their faces. They are genuinely happy for us." 

The move is something she and Jon had been thinking about and working towards up until the afternoon in January when four men tried to rob the Nieman Road location at gunpoint. 

The violence of the crime still shocks, the would-be robbers bursting in on Becky in the middle of the afternoon this past Jan. 9. They pointed guns at her, attacked her, broke her nose. 

Jon came out of a back room firing. More than 30 rounds were exchanged. One of the robbers was gravely injured. Jon died, struck by four bullets. 

Becky now wears both her and Jon's wedding rings on a chain around her neck and strives to do the work both of them used to split. She says she's always been the finance person, the one who ordered new stock and dealt with vendors. Jon was a more "behind the scenes" person, content to let his wife be the face of the franchise. 

"Jon was an awesome computer programmer," she said. "He wrote all the code for the systems we still use. How we email, how we order new things, deal with vendors, all that was from code he wrote. He was amazing at that." 

Becky says her staff has helped her maintain the business and, over the last two weeks, move into the new location. ("My team is my family," she said.)

The store not only sells weapons and all their accouterments (clips, magazine canisters, tactical vests, holsters) but also specializes in training people in personal protection with a raft of course offerings. 

"We can train very beginners, people who've never touched a gun. We have concealed-carry courses (required for Kansas's conceal-carry law)," she said. "To people who want to learn how to defend their home. And even hand-to-hand training methods. If it's about personal protection, we have an instructor for it." 

This seems to be the source of her true zeal, even today. It's clear she has a pedagogue's passion for the details of handling a gun. Maybe not despite January's tragedy but because of it. 

"It's not about the handguns, or the pepper spray," she said. "It's about the mentality we need to protect ourselves and do that in a way that works for each individual."

Becky says she grew up with such a mindset. Her father was a Marine. The store name, in fact, comes from one of his favorite catch phrases. Both he and Becky's mother were avid gun-users when she was little. 

"From when I was teeny-tiny, I was around guns," she said. "And I learned, they weren't something to play with. They were to be respected and honored." 

The murder trial for three of the accused robberswill soon begin (a fourth has already pleaded guilty). Becky plans to attend and has been adamant in her many public pronouncementsin her desire for justice. 

Just as adamant: her drive to keep moving with what had been her and Jon's dream and still is for her. 

"We're still going to be here a long time," she said.

Kyle Palmer, a former teacher, is KCUR's morning newscaster and reporter. You can follow him on Twitter @kcurkyle. 

Kyle Palmer is the editor of the Shawnee Mission Post, a digital news outlet serving Northeast Johnson County, Kansas. He previously served as KCUR's news director and morning newscaster.
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