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Report: Gun Sales Surge in Wake of Colorado Theater Shooting
by Chad D. Baus
In the wake of the Colorado movie massacre, gun stores have reported an increase in sales.
By some estimates, stores across the country, from Colorado to Ohio, have seen sales jump from 40 – 60 percent.
The Columbus Dispatch is also covering the sales surge:
Ohioans didn’t need the horrific headlines of the movie-theater massacre in Aurora, Colo., to prompt them to buy a gun or obtain a concealed-carry permit.
Ohioans have been snapping up weapons in increasing numbers for years, even as violent crime and property crime decrease.
While some handgun trainers reported an uptick in demand for concealed-carry classes after the shooting deaths of a dozen people at a midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises, business largely remains typical — busy.
Crime in people’s backyards, rather than in a theater across the country, trigger gun purchases and interest in carrying them, they say.
Robert Adkins, owner of Mid Ohio Firearms in Dublin, said his gun sales and the numbers taking his handgun-training courses have been trending upward for the past 18 months.
“It seems to be driven by local crime,” he said, counting an 80-year-old Powell man whose home was burglarized and Ohio State University students who were mugged near campus as among those he recently trained.
Gun buyers also worry about the perception of increased crime amid joblessness, a sour economy and potential changes in gun-ownership laws with a presidential election at hand, Adkins said.
The FBI ran 276,156 background checks, the seventh-most in the United States, on Ohio gun buyers in the first half of this year. The total is projected at more than 550,000 checks for 2012 — an 18 percent increase over the year before. The FBI ran 468,974 pre-sale background checks last year, an increase of 19 percent from 2010.
Amid the 4.6 million total background checks since late 1988, Ohioans appear to have bought nearly 2 million handguns, the fourth-most in the nation, behind Texas, California and Florida.
The background-check numbers do not add up to the number of purchases because of sales involving multiple guns, people who back out of purchases and those disqualified from buying firearms.
According to the article, Bob Maroldy, owner of American Guncrafters in Gahanna, did field more requests for his concealed-carry classes after the Aurora shootings.
“It happens every time something like this happens. It gives people awareness (that) they’re responsible for their own safety,” he said.
Carrying a handgun can help protect people as long as they “don’t patronize places that strip them of their self-defense rights” by barring guns from the premises, Maroldy said.
“They think they are protecting their patrons when they have done the exact opposite,” he said, saying mass murderers like the Colorado gunman “pick places where they know they won’t find resistance.”
County sheriffs have issued 296,588 concealed-carry permits, the equivalent of 3 percent of Ohio’s adult population, since the law was enacted in 2004. Not all of those permits remain valid because of expirations and revocations.
More permits (18,294) have been issued in Franklin County through the first quarter of this year than any other county. Cuyahoga County (Cleveland) and Hamilton County (Cincinnati) combined have issued about 2,000 more permits than Franklin County since 2004.
The Franklin County sheriff’s office issued 3,514 permits last year, the most ever and a 12 percent increase over 2010. The number of permits issued in the first quarter of 2012 suggests that this year’s numbers will be even higher.
And the total concealed-carry permits issued statewide in the first quarter also indicate that this year could see a new high of about 67,000, easily topping the record of 56,691 distributed in 2009.
Fairfield County Sheriff Dave Phalen said the impact of Ohioans carrying guns has been neutral. “I don’t think it has interrupted criminal activity. On the other hand, we haven’t seen people pulling their guns and shooting each other. It hasn’t escalated gun violence.”
Both violent and property crime have been trending downward in Ohio and the nation for years. Violent crime was down 5.2 percent in Columbus in 2011, including an 8.4 percent decrease in homicides, preliminary FBI figures show.
For her part, Toby Hoover, executive director of the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence, told The Dispatch she thinks there are too many guns, leading to too much violence.
Concealed-carry permits provide "only a false sense of security" that a person with a handgun could take down a heavily armed gunman wearing body armor, like the Colorado killer, Hoover said.
Assault weapons, such as one carried by the suspected movie-theater killer, exist for only one reason — "to kill people," she said. The national ban on the sale of assault weapons expired in 2004.
Ohio firearm deaths in 2008, the latest year available, totaled 1,115 — about three a day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 430 of those shooting deaths were homicides, with the majority consisting of suicides. Ohio's rate of 9.7 firearm deaths per 100,000 of population ranked below the U.S. average of 10.3, and 30th among the states.
Common-sense gun-ownership regulations long have been held hostage by rebellion against perceived government control, Hoover said.
"When people are continuing to have fear fed to them, they tend to think, 'Gee, everyone else is armed, so I better go out and get a gun.' It's a vicious circle. Is this really how we want to live?" Hoover said.
Far better this than not living at all, Mrs. Hoover!
Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Vice Chairman.