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The new weapons race: Residents rush to get armed

The new weapons race: Residents rush to get armed

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Published by A.J. MacDonald, Jr.
Small town PA paper stokes gun violence fear via government-media propaganda as it is told to do.
Small town PA paper stokes gun violence fear via government-media propaganda as it is told to do.

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Published by: A.J. MacDonald, Jr. on Jan 20, 2013
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01/20/2013

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The new weapons race: Residents rushto get armed
By JIM HOOK, @JimHookPO
Click photo to enlargeRights: Gun-rights advocates gather outside the Utah Capitol during the... (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Fear appears to be driving people to buy and carry handguns in Franklin County.The mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school last month and proposedgun controls are the latest triggers for a recent spike in applications for gunpurchases and concealed-carry permits in Pennsylvania.But the urge to have a handgungoes back several years."I've been in this business all mylife," said 70-year-old gun shop owner GeorgeHerrold. "This is by far the craziest, I guess you'd say, the public has been aboutfirearms.""You'd think tomorrow was the first day of hunting season," said Gary Seburn,gun manager at Keystone Country Store in Fort Loudon. "We got through huntingseason with everybody grabbingshells, then we jumped right back into it again.People are buying guns for the f irst time. They're buying all the ammo they canfind."More Pennsylvanians than ever are buying handguns and getting permits tocarry them. Handgun sales have doubled in 10 years. They are almost aspopular as shotguns and rifles. Licenses to carry handguns are up by two-thirds.Gun buyers fear for their personal safety and fear losing their right to bear arms.
 
"It's a panic mode everybody's in," Seburn said. "Through all the robberies andshootings, you've got some people running scared: They need a gun now; if theydon't get it now, they'll never have one."The Pennsylvania Instant Check System, a call center established in 1998 andoperated by the Pennsylvania State Police, checks the background of any personapplying to buy a gun or to get a license to carry a handgun.Five days after 26 children and adults were fatally shot at Sandy HookElementary School in Newtown, Conn., PICS received 8,041 calls, just shy of arecord 9,003 calls on Black Friday a month earlier.December is one of the busiest months for the call center because of hunting andholiday seasons, according to state police data. Calls to PICS increased 64percent for the month - 142,812 calls
Franklin Count data 
Firearm licensesHandgun salesLong gun sales
Firearm carry licenses
20022003200420052006200720082009201020115001,0001,5002,0002,500Source: Pennsylvania State Police Firearms annual reports
In December 2012 compared to 86,830 in December 2011, a record year for guns sales in Pennsylvania. Gun sales for 2012 are not yet available.December is also the month when PICS is most likely to go down. When PICS isworking, and that's about 99 percent of the time, there's a wait. Gun shops reporta 20-minute hold to get a sale approved or denied. That excludes redial time."Everybody is in the same boat," said Bob Welker, the clerk who processeslicense-to-carry permits at the Franklin County Sheriff's Department. "It's justoverwhelming."
 
Welker keeps his ear on the phone as he talks at the counter to people pickingup or applying for permits. He is getting about 50 requests a day for permits.Most are first-time applicants."They feel it's their right," he said. "They now are coming out in force."They range from 21 to 93 years old. He's had octogenarians, one with an oxygenbottle and another with a walker, come to the counter. Welker said he hears, "I'mscared. I feel it's my right. I want to be protected."Prior to the school shooting, the typical reasons for getting a permit were totarget shoot or to transport a handgun in a vehicle, Welker said. Now peoplewant to carry a handgun for protection and because the gun laws might change.Prior to the rush, about 6,000 people were permitted to carry a concealedweapon in Franklin County, according to Welker. A decade ago about 1,200 countians a year acquired or renewed their license tocarry a concealed weapon, according to state police. The number jumped to2,200 in 2011. A license must be renewed every five years.Handgun sales in the county have more than doubled, from less than 2,000 in2002 to more than 4,000 in 2011. Sales of long guns, rifles and shotguns haveheld steady."I kind of hits you with everybody running scared," Seburn said. "I feel sorrythey're feeling pressured. Nobody wants to see anybody, especially kids, hurt."It's difficult keeping ammunition stocked, he said. Gun owners are buying $300 to$700 worth at a time. One customer bought more than $1,000 worth beforeheading to another gun store for more. Another came in with his wife and threechildren and felt compelled to buy one more box of ammo. "I feel they didn't havethe extra $50 to $60," Seburn said. "That's a hard thing to see."Some liken the run on ammunition to stocking up on bread and milk before asnowstorm, or topping off a fuel tank and filling gas cans at the start of an energycrisis. At first, people bought assault rifles, Seburn said, just to have one or to reselllater at a profit.Currently, pistols that fit in a pocket are hot items.

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