August 15th, 2012
Local gun sales are going up, retailers say, as data show background checks for pistol permits are up nationwide.
Brothers John and Frank Havlick, whose family has run Frank's Guns and Tackle Shop in Mayfield for 29 years, say business over the past four years has been strong.
Since 2009, John Havlick said he's seen an increase in firearm sales and applications for pistol permits. He said he has almost 100 pistols waiting in the back room of his store for people to pick up once they earn their pistol permit.
"We've seen a 40 percent increase," Havlick said, "if not more. You can definitely see the increase."
James McCarthy, owner of Jim McCarthy Guns in Amsterdam, said he's also seen a lot more people buying firearms and ammo.
Data indicate background checks for pistol permits are up around the nation.
According to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System Report, May, June and July saw a marked increase in background checks for pistol permits.
In 2011, May, June and July saw 1.23 million, 1.168 million and 1.157 million checks, respectively. Compared to the same months in 2012, the numbers increased, with 1.316 million, 1.3 million, and 1.3 million checks, respectively.
According to the report, the highest month so far this year was February, when 1.7 million background checks were made.
Montgomery County Undersheriff Jeffery T. Smith said a pistol permit allows the person to own a handgun, but it does not say how many he can own.
"They could be putting four handguns on it," Smith said. "So, that's not a true indication of how many guns are sold."
Bill Brassard Jr., director of Communications for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a trade association for the firearms industry, said the number of background checks related to the purchase of a new firearm increased by 25.5 percent in July when compared to last July. In July 2011, there were 680,258 checks, compared to July 2012's 853,355, according to the NSSF. This was the 26th straight month the figures have increased when compared to the same period in the previous year.
"NSSF adjusts the raw NICS number by subtracting those background checks that are clearly unrelated to sales, such as those for concealed carry permits, to arrive at a number more closely related to sales activity. That is the main difference in the two sets of statistics," Brassard said in an email.
Local applications for permits also have increased. Fulton County has gone along with the trend, with pistol permit applications approved and accepted up from two in July 2011 to 42 in July 2012, according to the Fulton County Sheriff's Office. The number of applications received also increased, from five in July 2011 to 19 in July 2012. Montgomery County also surpassed last year, with 91 applications made for the year, while as of the end of July 2012, 125 applications have been approved by the county.
Smith said Montgomery County pistol permit classes are filled up into December.
Smith said the sheriff's office does not keep track of guns sold.
McCarthy said he believes the increase in sales over the last few years comes from fears about gun control.
"I think [some members of the public] are afraid laws may change," McCarthy said.
John Havlick said the increase stems from people thinking President Obama would restrict the purchasing of firearms.
"He's a gun-control guy," Havlick said. "If he could, he would [restrict sales]."
According to the website On The Issues, Obama voted for gun-control bills when he was a senator for Illinois. According to the site, he supported a failed bill in 2000 that would have limited people from purchasing more than one firearm a month.
Smith said he would classify New York state gun laws as restrictive, stating people seeking a pistol must have his fingerprints taken and pass a background check and the application process.
John Havlick said when robberies or violent crimes occur, there is an increase in sales for firearms for home protection.
"I don't have a reason why more people are applying [for pistol permits]," Smith said.
He said that while he has heard people's concerns about gun control, he cannot say if that is the reason for the spike.
Smith also said, to his knowledge, he has heard of no local measures to restrict firearms.
John Havlick said he hasn't seen an increase in gun sales tied directly to the recent shooting in Aurora, Colo.
Background checks for people wanting to buy guns went up in Colorado and other states after the July 20 shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., which killed 12 people.
From July 20 to 22, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation approved background checks for 2,887 people who wanted to purchase a firearm - a 43 percent increase over the previous Friday through Sunday and a 39 percent jump over those same days on the first weekend of July.
After a gunman in Tucson killed six people and injured others, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, in 2010, background checks in Arizona jumped 60 percent over the same date one year earlier, according to the FBI.
A similar increase occurred in Virginia after the shootings at Virginia Tech University in 2007.
Legal gun sales in California are on pace to set a record this year, according to state projections.
The California Department of Justice expects that 725,000 rifles, pistols and shotguns will be legally purchased in 2012. The projection is more than 100,000 more guns than were bought last year and nearly twice as many as were purchased five years ago.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.