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Firearms sales soar in wake of gun debate

January 30, 2013
In the wake of recent talk of increased firearms regulations, handgun and ammunition sales have flown to new heights.

Andy Eschbacher, an employee of Gun World Sporting Goods and Archery Pro Shop for four years, holds up a 9-mm Glock for inspection. Every legal gun purchase must have a matching 44-73 form filed during the purchase process. It is an extensive four-page informational questionnaire to determine if the purchaser is a suitable match for owning a gun. Photos by Leslie Radcliff
Many people, like Jim Crask, manager of Gun World Sporting Goods and Archery Pro Shop in Corydon, attribute the uptick in sales to the growing sentiment from President Barack Obama and other key government officials to ban several types of automatic weapons in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., shootings.

Crask, like many firearm enthusiasts, is hesitant to speculate on the types of regulations the government could hand down.

"We don't really know what the laws are going to be, and that's part of the problem: we don't know what they're going to be doing," he said. "Generally, when you tell someone that you can't have something, human nature is they're going to go out and get it."

Membership in the National Rifle Association has increased by almost a quarter of a million since the tragedy in Newtown in early December.

Tammy Mills, administrative assistant at the Crawford County Sheriff's Department, said the number of personal protection permits that the department has issued has skyrocketed since mid-December.

"In December of 2011, we issued nine personal protection permits," she said. "In December 2012, we issued 29. Only seven were issued before the 14th."

Dec. 14 was the day the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting took place in Connecticut.

The number of personal protection permits issued by the department for January as of Monday is a whopping 40.

A task force headed by Vice President Joe Biden was commissioned by Obama to get to the bottom of the issue and to make a recommendation on proposed regulations.

Obama has since announced a gun control proposal that would require background checks for private gun sales, reinstate and strengthen the expired assault weapons ban and implement a 10-round limit for ammunition magazines.

"Ammunition sales are up, handgun and long-gun sales are up," Crask said. "It's pretty much across the board."

He said that, after the previous election, the shop saw a moderate increase in gun sales and the same is true of the most recent election.

"I guess people just see it coming down the pipe. I think the politicians are looking for a quick answer or an easy answer," Crask said. "I read recently that there's 22,000 gun laws on the books right now, what's one more going to do?"

The proposed national plan also strives to provide some level of protection for police officers by banning armor-piercing ammunition, includes efforts to staunch violence within the school systems by providing resources to hire "school resource officers," addresses mental health coverage in health insurance plans, and ends the freeze on gun violence research in the United States.

Obama has said that he has "a profound respect" for the tradition of hunting that dates back generations and his respect for gun owners should not be taken lightly, but the realities of street violence in densely populated areas will take precedent.

"I think those who dismiss that out of hand make a big mistake," Obama said in an interview with The New Republic. "Part of being able to move this forward is understanding the reality of guns in urban areas are very different from the realities of guns in rural areas."

With possible regulations up in the air, Crask says it's still business as usual for the local pro shop and that it will keep following the rules just as it has been.

"Every gun dealer in the United States has had to have background checks. We actually contact the FBI, either call them or online," he said. "So, I don't know what else they could have us do unless they want to get into the mental health aspect of it."

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