Gun sales increase in 2012

Sunday, Feb. 19, 2012 5:42 PM
Last updated Monday, Feb. 20, 2012 12:58 AM
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In the gun business, fear drives sales, and recently, sales have increased.

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Augusta residents Kayna Widener, left, shoots her Glock 26, and Chris Puthoff, right, fires his Glock 19 at Shooters gun range.  EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
Augusta residents Kayna Widener, left, shoots her Glock 26, and Chris Puthoff, right, fires his Glock 19 at Shooters gun range.

About 300 people have already applied for a Georgia Weapon Carry license in 2012, according to Richmond County Probate Court records. Last year, about 1,600 permits were submitted. At the current rate, applications could nearly double 2011’s numbers by the end of this year.

Kayna Widener was driven to buy a gun after she saw a man attack a woman outside Augusta Mall months ago. She was the only witness.

The man fled after the
victim put up a struggle. Wid­ener knows everyone isn’t as lucky.

On Friday, she practiced shooting a “Bad Guy” paper target with her Glock 26 at Shooters gun range. Her boyfriend, Sean Morgan, stood nearby.

“It definitely makes me feel better,” he said of Widener’s ability to defend herself.

Steven Fryant, Shooters’ store manager, said business has increased by 15 percent or more in the past two months.

“The overall climate around here makes people wary,” said Eddie Walden, the owner of Wal­dens, a gun store on Bobby Jones Expressway. “You hear about shootings every day. I think it’s had a big effect on gun purchases over the last few years.”

In the past two years, he estimates that purchases by wo­men have more than doubled. Fryant described Na­tional Rifle Association instruction classes for women as going “out of the roof.”

Cori Puthoff is one of those new female gun owners.

“We had a dog, but we wanted more protection than that,” she said.

Puthoff and her husband, Chris, haven’t had any issues with crime, but they said they would rather be safe than sorry.

“I’m military and gone a lot, so it’s important for her to have it and be comfortable with it,” Chris Puthoff said.

For many customers, a new gun is an addition to a collection of weapons. But other purchases are brought on by fear. Walden said buyers will discuss concerns over recent crime in the news or their neighborhoods as they browse.

Some of those customers return
to the store after a year or so and sell the gun back.

“We get so many pistols that have never been shot,” he said.

Scott Prince, the gun department manager at Waldens, compared those purchases to the purchase of a beautiful piano.

“You can put it in your house, but just because it’s there, that doesn’t mean you can play it,” he said.

He always slips those customers a business card for an NRA instructional course.

In Aiken, training instructors are booked as far in advance as May. South Caro­lina requires a gun owner to pass a training course before obtaining a concealed weapon permit. Georgia requires that a person pass a background check for a permit.

Chuck Scott, the owner of The Gun Rack in Aiken, said recent crime in the city has increased his floor traffic by 30 percent to 40 percent.

In just more than 30 days from Decem­ber to January, Aiken Master Public Safety Officer Scotty Richardson and Master Cpl. Sandra E. Rogers were killed by gunfire. In October, Richmond County sheriff’s Deputy J.D.
Paugh was shot and killed in the line of duty.

“Gun sales have definitely increased,” Scott said. “We’re seeing quite a few first-time buyers and a lot of people wanting to improve their home defense.”

Retailers said they expect sales to continue to increase this year because of crime and it being an election year.

Uncertainty over a new president and policies can drive consumers to stock up on guns and ammunition.
Sales generally increased in 2008 and 2009, after the election of President Obama.

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bjphysics 02/20/12 - 09:52 am
Good, I hope sales are up in

Good, I hope sales are up in other states. I know people in this industry and sales have been very poor for almost two years (after a 2009 spike); many are thinking of getting out. Hopefully this turns things around but it does look like another “paranoia bubble”; what is needed is a level sustained interest in gun ownership and shooting. If you haven’t tried shooting at an indoor range do, it’s a blast; nothing improves your marksmanship like practice.

seenitB4 02/20/12 - 10:03 am
The article says... “The

The article says...

“The overall climate around here makes people wary,” said Eddie Walden, the owner of Wal­dens, a gun store on Bobby Jones Expressway. “You hear about shootings every day. I think it’s had a big effect on gun purchases over the last few years.”

Now why can't the Commish SEE THIS......

toldyaso 02/20/12 - 12:44 pm
.The shootings we hear about

.The shootings we hear about though are not by legally armed law abiding citizens. The gun haters push to ban guns, or make it harder for citizens to buy guns, or get a CCW license, will not take guns out of the hands of those who would use them in crimes.
I deplore the shootings and deaths of our police officers but, these situations only drive home the point for me that there is a growing need for law abiding citizens to be able to protect themselves and their family. We are facing a growing group of people that would rather take what you have and threaten you than to earn it themselves. It is an unfortunate fact.

CobaltGeorge 02/20/12 - 12:49 pm
I glad to see that many of

I glad to see that many of the American Citizens are waking up. A concealed weapon is something you need to walk into today's PC country. I would like to add, just look at the handwriting on the wall throughout our world and compare it with the issues here in our own great nation. A Glock will not do you much good protecting your home when the time every comes when food is no more available. I suggest a second gun, a good Semi-auto assault rifle with a couple 1000 rounds of ammo and at least 10 clips fully loaded. I know it will never happen, right, I'm just paranoid.

bjphysics 02/20/12 - 01:08 pm
AR15 family: lightweight,

AR15 family: lightweight, good ammo availability (.223 Remington/5.56x45mm NATO) and cost.

David Parker
David Parker 02/20/12 - 03:53 pm
love shooting that one in the

love shooting that one in the video games

debby 02/20/12 - 07:07 pm
Bought my first weapon in

Bought my first weapon in late December, took an NRA class in early February (thanks Aaron!), now, I feel confident about living my life as a single female who is able to protect myself.

PedsMD 02/21/12 - 12:04 pm
For the record, AR15's and

For the record, AR15's and other semi-automatic legal rifles are not "assault rifles" and carry a negative connotation in the media. Assigning them this name makes the liberal media look down upon good, legal, CCW permit carrying citizens. Please refer to them by their correct name: semi-automatic rifles.

Common.sense 02/26/12 - 03:23 pm
This is a feel good story!

This is a feel good story!

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