Looming suspicion fuels spike in gun purchases
In the four years President Barack Obama has spent in the White House, gun sales have skyrocketed.
Not since the Brady Bill in 1994, however, has the nation — or the state of North Carolina — seen such a dramatic shift in gun culture as in the last year.
An unprecedented volume of firearms being snatched up has resulted in the rise of both handgun purchase permits and concealed carry applications at the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office. Statistics soared in 2012, as the number of applicants for handgun permits rose to 2,469 from 1,546 in 2011. Those numbers, coupled with the 2,007 concealed carry weapon permits that were applied for in the last 12 months, demonstrate the rampant market.
"There's been a great surge since around Christmas," Sheriff David Grice said. "It started going up in 2008 and continues to be on the rise, but this is the most I've ever seen. We recently had 60 purchase permits in one day."
Such a staggering shift has left gun shop owners in a position to do more business than they were prepared to accommodate.
"It's a supply based on what normally occurs," said Don Efird, co-owner of Archdale Arms & Ammo. "But the demand was created without a basis. It's not real demand."
Gun legislation may further restrict the right to acquire and retain ownership of some firearms. On Wednesday, Obama proposed background checks on all gun sales and a ban on assault weapons. He said restrictions, including one to legislate the number of rounds in a magazine, are important to facilitate the safety of the nation's children.
Don Leonard, co-owner of Archdale's The Gun Doctor, also believes the recent surge in purchases of assault rifles, magazines and ammunition is linked to the reintroduction of gun control as a hot-button issue and ensuing paranoia.
The Dec. 14 school shooting in Newtown, Conn., spurred national dialogue from the nation's lawmakers and groups lobbying for stricter regulation. In December, the FBI's National Instant Check System (NICS) was flooded with 2.7 million requests for background checks nationwide — the most since 1998.
"Demographics are all over the place. All ethnicities, males and females are out purchasing guns," Grice said. "We've got a lot of people concerned about guns being regulated at the federal level. The latest conversation (initiated by President Obama) developed on assault rifles has instilled a concern in people. Some think, 'If I ever want to get one, I better get one now.'"
Staff Writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 888-3575, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Archdale-Trinity Staff Writer Debbie Hightower contributed to this story.