Rob writes a weekly outdoors column and covers energy, environmental and nuclear issues (and lots of other topics) for the metro section. He has been an avid angler and hunter ever since he realized he had neither the aptitude nor the desire to take up golf. He has been a full-time journalist for 28 years, including 11 years as bureau chief in Columbia County. Before joining The Chronicle, he worked at newspapers in Columbia, S.C., and West Palm Beach, Fla. He has edited or authored three reference books on antique fishing tackle; and his freelance work has appeared in Field & Stream, Gray’s Sporting Journal and Georgia Outdoor News. He lives in Evans.
Posted January 12, 2011 03:55 pm - Updated January 14, 2011 02:58 pm

Gun sales soar after Tucson shootings — but not here in Georgia

Does a massacre on Saturday equate to soaring gun sales on Monday?


If the FBI's figures on background checks for handgun buyers are any indication, it does - at least in some states.


In Arizona, where the Safeway shooting spree left six people dead and a Congresswoman and 11 others wounded, there were 263 such checks performed on Monday, showing a huge increase over the 164 checks a year earlier, on Monday, Jan. 11, 2010.


Gun sales also spiked that day in California, with 672 checks compared to last year's 580. Significant increases were also noted in Indiana, New York, Ohio, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and many other states.


Some people believe the jump in sales could have been prompted by fears of new gun control laws in the wake of the tragedy.


But what about Georgia and South Carolina?


In both states, the number of handgun sales actually declined - by a large percentage. Georgia's figure fell from 184 in 2010 to just 66 last Monday, while the South Carolina figures fell from 151 last year to just 24 on Monday.


Was it because we were in the throes of one of the worst winter storms in recent memory? Or maybe everyone in this area already has enough guns and didn't need to buy more.


The National Instant Criminal Background Check System statistics were  prepared by the FBI at the request of Bloomberg News Service, whose reporter - Michael Riley - first reported the numbers on Tuesday.


FBI officials caution that background checks don't necessarily correlate precisely to actual gun sales, but they are still a good general indicator.


Which states had the most and least sales? Florida leads the nation with 880 on that day this year, up from 772 in 2010. In Nebraska, there was just one sale last year, increasing to two this year.


In the Tucson case, the 22-year-old suspect, Jared Loughner, is accused of using a legally-acquired Glock handgun in his attempt to assassinate Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.


To learn more on the FBI's background check program, you can visit