John Jovino Gun Shop or the John Jovino Company is a firearms dealer and factory located at 183 Grand Street, in Little Italy in the New York City borough of Manhattan. It is the oldest gun retailer in New York City and claims to be the oldest gun shop in the United States.
The store, which is known for its sign depicting a revolver, was founded in 1911 by John Jovino who sold it to the Imperato family in the 1920s. It remains in the family. The store was once located at 5 Centre Market Place, part of a gun district behind the former police headquarters on Centre Street, but later moved to its present location.
The store "does about $1 million worth of business annually", a figure which used to be higher before the New York Police Department opened an internal firearms bureau. The company used to own a gun factory in Brooklyn, the only one in the city, which made Colt M1911 pistols and reproductions of American Civil War-era Henry rifles. The company, known as Henry Repeating Arms, moved its headquarters from New York to Bayonne, NJ in 2013.
Although many of its customers are in law enforcement, the company was near the top of a list of sellers whose guns were linked to New York City crimes in a 2003 report by a Columbia University researcher using data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Some 102 guns of 11,700 used in crimes and later identified came from the Jovino shop. According to current owners, until the 1980s the Jovino Company was "one of the biggest dealers in the country" and sold guns to many police departments. The study did not suggest any wrongdoing by the dealers listed (the store is not responsible for how people use the products they legally sell) and did not take into account that a store that has a higher volume of sales would most likely have a higher number of sales to people who later used the firearms in crimes, even if the store had a lower ratio of firearms used in crimes bought from the store per total sales than a store with a smaller volume of sales. A 2007 Village Voice article raised questions about the store's sales to United Nations diplomats from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The shop was seen in the film Serpico, in the thirteenth episode (Season One) of Law and Order (A Death in the Family) and very briefly in Mean Streets as well as The Brave One.
- Andy Newman (April 18, 2003). "New York Dealers Are Prominent on Court Case's List of Guns Tied to Crime". The New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D06E7D6173AF93BA25757C0A9659C8B63. Retrieved 2007-11-09.
- Adam Weinstein (October 23, 2007). "Chinatown mystery: Why did officials from the bloodiest country on earth stock up at a local gun shop?". Village Voice. http://www.villagevoice.com/news/0743,weinstein,78160,6.html. Retrieved 2007-11-09.
- Randy Kennedy (April 5, 2000). "PUBLIC LIVES; Selling Guns: A Tradition and a Dilemma". The New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D0DE0DE143FF936A35757C0A9669C8B63. Retrieved 2007-11-09.
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