(CNN) -- The owner of a company that sold firearm merchandise to both the Virginia Tech University and Northern Illinois University shooters said he will sell his guns at cost for the next two weeks in hopes that "law-abiding" citizens will buy them to prevent similar tragedies.
A gunman killed 32 people in April 2007 at Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg.
"I want to help people save lives," Eric Thompson said Thursday. He was to speak Thursday evening at Virginia Tech University at an event sponsored by Students for Concealed Carry on Campus. Thompson made the announcement Wednesday.
"I feel like I have a special responsibility to show people what guns are, what the laws are, and to allow people to protect themselves," Thompson said. "Initially, I wanted this to be an offer for college students," he said. "But there's no real way to determine whether someone is a college student ... so we opened it up to any legal American."
Thompson owns TGSCOM Inc, a Green Bay, Wisconsin-based company that operates about 100 Web sites that sell firearms. Among them are www.topglock.com and www.thegunsource.com, two Web sites that the NIU and Virginia Tech gunmen used to buy firearm merchandise.
Steven Kazmierczak, who killed five students before turning the gun on himself at NIU on February 14, bought two Glock 9 mm magazines and a Glock holster from www.topglock.com.
And Virginia Tech shooter Seung-Hui Cho bought a Walther P22 from www.thegunsource.com.
Cho killed 32 students and professors before killing himself April 16, 2007.
Thompson said he has a "really emotional and raw feeling" about having links to the attacks. "I feel absolutely terrible for the parents, students and schools."
However, he added, "I'm selling a piece of plastic and a piece of metal ... and I think the media focuses on something different. ... I think they should focus on the murderer and not the weapon."
Thompson acknowledged that his guns could again be used in a crime.
"There's a small chance of these discounted guns getting into the hands of the wrong people," he said. But, he added, "as a federally licensed gun dealer, we have to rely on federal background checks."
He emphasized that he thinks he is doing the right thing. "This isn't fun, and this isn't easy," he said. "I could have easily stuck my head in the sand and ignored all of this, but sometimes the easy way to go is not the right thing to do."
He said, "I'm not making a single dime off of this. ... I will probably end up losing thousands and thousands [of dollars]."
Furthermore, he added, he and his family have received threatening phone calls; some included death threats.
"I do not feel I have extreme views," he said. "I think I have open eyes."
NIU did not immediately issue a response to Thompson's offer.
Virginia Tech spokesman Larry Hincker issued a statement regarding Thompson's appearance there Thursday.
"Free speech is a hallmark of university life," he said. "Still, I find it terribly offensive to learn that the gun-seller of the weapons used in the Virginia Tech campus murders would set foot on this campus."
The statement did not address Thompson's offer, and the school did not immediately reply to a request for a response. E-mail to a friend
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