Worries trigger gun sales
BY JOSH MROZINSKI (STAFF WRITER)
Published: August 2, 2009
Driven by fears of civil unrest caused by the recession and anxiety that President Barack Obama may introduce gun-control legislation, gun sales have soared in Northeast Pennsylvania.
"The current administration poses a risk for Second Amendment rights, and people are concerned," said National Rifle Association spokeswoman Vickie Lieplak. "Guns are flying off the shelf."
At Carbondale Guns, store owner John Tidd said he has seen a substantial increase in sales since Mr. Obama took office. He also said customers are concerned for their safety with the mounting job losses and economic turmoil.
"People are buying weapons for safety," he said. "(The increase in sales) should leave a message to politicians that 99 percent of us respect the Constitution and do not want it diluted."
The Pennsylvania State Police Firearms Division's annual report, which was released June 30, shows handgun sales and transfers have reached record highs, increasing about 21.2 percent with 208,436 sales or transfers last year compared to 171,868 in 2007. Rifle sales and transfers increased about 9.8 percent, from 232,660 in 2007 to a record high of 255,540 last year.
Throughout the region, area counties also have seen stark rises in gun sales, especially rural counties. In Susquehanna County, handgun sales and transfers increased about 67 percent, from 754 in 2007 to 1,262 last year. In Luzerne County, it rose 17.6 percent, from 5,382 in 2007 to 6,331 last year while in Lackawanna County, it increased about 14.2 percent, from 4,059 in 2007 to 4,635 last year.
Nationwide, the FBI recorded a 49 per cent rise in gun background checks during election week compared to the same week a year earlier and an overall increase compared to last year. The FBI has conducted 330,952 gun background checks so far this year - a 22 percent rise compared to 270,201 in the same time frame last year.
"I hear some folks say they need something to protect themselves," said James Wood, owner of Wood's Weapon & Ammunition in Susquehanna. "I think the increase is driven in part from a fear of a breakdown in society."
Gun sales at Wood's has increased about 10 percent, he said, adding that rumors the Obama administration may restrict weapons fueled sales with panic buying.
"Everybody got cleaned out," Mr. Wood noted, adding warehouses and wholesalers were emptied of their inventories.
Even though some people who purchased guns may never use them, owning a weapon can calm a person's anxiety and fears, said Marie Gray, PhD. and an adjunct psychology professor at Misericordia University.
Ms. Gray, who is a fellow in the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress, said the economy, among with several other factors, including reports of home invasions and other violent crimes throughout the nation, causes a high-level anxiety in society today.
"I think people in general have a difficult time with uncertainty, change and what-ifs," Ms. Gray said. "When we are in scary times, our anxiety is high."
At Brady & Cavany in Eaton Township near Tunkhannock, gun sales are up this year, said owner Giles Evans.
"People are buying guns where they can," Mr. Evans said. "People feel an anxiety as far as gun rights."
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