Gun sales up

Published 2:44 am Saturday, September 1, 2012

Shown is the gun selection from 3 Notch Pawn and Gun in Andalusia.

Mass shootings. Fear of new gun control laws. Protection from home invaders – whatever the reason, gun sales are on the rise.

Both national and local gun retailers report an increase in gun sales.

“Everyone is worrying about gun laws,” said Ramsi Moulton of Indian Joe’s in Opp. “Our gun sales really don’t start until September for hunting season, but we are selling a lot of hand guns.”

In fact, Moulton said the store usually averages about two or three handguns per week, but sold four on Thursday alone.

“We’ll have a lot of people come and look at them, trying to find the best price,” she said.

Steve Odom, owner of 3-Notch Pawn and Gun, said he thinks folks are buying guns for hunting season.

“In South Alabama, it’s hunting season,” Odom said. “Personally, I think so.”

Throughout the state, Alabama background checks have grown by 37 percent from 2007-2011.

Last year alone, 336,102 people received background checks to purchase guns.

In Covington County, Chief Deputy David Anderson said the number of permits, which include new and renewal permits, is up about 280 based on January 2012-Aug. 2012, compared to the same time period last year.

In 2011, approximately 2,600 permits were issued during the time period and this year 2,880 have been issued, Anderson said.

Dr. Ab St. John, president of the South Alabama Gun Club, said there are a number of reasons why people may be stocking up on guns.

St. John said that Covington County has a “very heavily-armed populace,” but that there is far less gun violence than in Mobile or Montgomery counties.

“We have a very responsible populace,” he said. “I think first and foremost, hunting is big in this country,” he said. “A lot of people hunt and enjoy hunting. That’s always a big reason why we have people come to our gun show.

St. John said there’s been more interest in husbands wanting to purchase guns for their wives for personal protection.

“And most police departments will affirm that they cannot be everywhere at every time – their response times are good, but they may not be fast enough to save someone’s life,” he said. “If someone is threatening you in your home, it may take the police four to eight minutes to respond. When seconds are critical, it could mean the difference between life and death.”

St. John said when residents purchase guns, they are simply exercising their Second Amendment rights to protect their property and families.

St. John said he believes that an armed populace could protect itself from a tyrannical government.

“If you look at the history of this country, the founding fathers were very concerned about the oppressive British rule,” he said. “My view is that is why we have the Second Amendment.”

St. John said he also believes that people are upgrading their guns from older steel and wood guns to newer designs.

“I think we would be missing the mark, if we were to ignore that there is a generalized fear as to what is happening in our world around us,” he said. “The national debt is at levels that are not sustainable. People think of the consequences, which could be the collapse of society. Nationwide there are people who are ‘preppers’. They not only stock up on food, but guns to defend themselves.”

Additionally, St. John said that every time there is talk about gun control, people become fearful that they may lose their second amendment rights and being able to protect their families.

“I think most people have some sort of contingency plan if someone were to break into their home, whether it’s hiding in a bedroom, baseball bat or a shotgun” he said.

St. John said he’s also seen the adverse affects of the damage a firearm can do, which he experienced while doing his residency in Mobile.

“We had a lot of gunshot wounds,” he said. “I don’t have any illusions about the damage that they can do, if they are handled properly.”

St. John said for those who plan to use guns, they have a responsibility to learn to use them properly.

“They should never be used as a threat,” he said. “They should only be used in a life or death situation. I hope that people who purchase the guns understand that. Education is one of the things we do for our members.”

Locally, residents’ responses for purchasing new weapons varied.

“Bought one at the recent gun show in Andalusia,” said Charlene Griffin. “(I) just feel safer at home.”

Rhett Barbaree said he’s purchased a gun “just in case someone tried to make my day.”

Amanda Jones said she thinks it’s because of hunting season being right around the corner.

“Hunting is expensive – hunting club dues, food plots – with the economy like it is, I think many are trying to spread out their purchases to balance out.”