Gun shops report rise in sales following Colorado shooting

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 28, 2012

By Nathan Hardin
SALISBURY — Local authorities and area gun shops reported an uptick in gun sales after the deadly Colorado shooting earlier this month.
Brandon Cupp, owner of Cerberus Firearms in Salisbury, said personal protection and fears of possible new gun restrictions are the reason.
But customers have also been more interested in getting concealed weapon permits, he said.
“They’re embarrassed to talk about being afraid to walk down the street,” Cupp said, “but the fear is there.”
Gun restrictions emerged as a hot-button issue for legislators after authorities said the Colorado shooting suspect, James Holmes, used firearms to kill 12 and injure dozens more in a movie theater on July 20.
Earlier this week, President Barack Obama acknowledged to reporters that not enough had been done to prevent weapons from getting into the hands of criminals.
In a televised interview, Republican candidate Mitt Romney said changing laws would not prevent gun-related tragedies.
But gun enthusiasts have been skeptical, Cupp said, and some believe lawmakers will target online ammunition purchases.
“Our ammunition has definitely gone up,” he said.
Summer months are typically slow for gun sales.
But Cupp said he’s had more customers asking for ammunition and concealed weapons classes since the shooting massacre.
Despite laws prohibiting citizens from taking handguns into movie theatres or other ticketed events, Cupp said people want to feel safe.
“Regardless of what the law says, people are scared,” he said.
Firearms instructors in the county said they’ve seen an increase in the number of people signing up for classes this summer.
Several of those shooting Saturday said they were there for safety.
Jeff and Dana, a Rowan County couple who declined to give their last names, were among those at the Rowan County Wildlife Center shooting range Saturday morning.
“I came because I want to be able to defend myself,” Dana said, citing the recent attack in Colorado.
“The news is scary right now with all the attacks going on,” she said.
Her husband, Jeff, said he was there to give his wife “confidence.”
“She wouldn’t come without me,” he said. “This whole thing is for her.”
The couple said they own a gun and have fired guns before, but wanted to be able to carry firearms legally.
The course, they said, is worth it.
“It’s been very informative,” Dana said.
Their firearms instructor, Claude Paris, said he’s seen more gun owners signing up for concealed weapons classes this year than last.
But the biggest difference has been the change in participants.
“In January, I had 21, and 13 of them were women,” Paris said.”
Paris said since the Colorado shooting, he’s seen a slight increase.
But he said he thinks the rules need to change for permit holders to be safe.
“Those people were in a gun-free zone in there and they’re dead,” he said.
“I don’t want to shoot anybody. All I want to do is be left alone,” he said.
Rowan County Sheriff’s Office Capt. John Sifford said the department asks those interested in getting concealed carry permits to take the course first before beginning the permit application.
Because of that, he said, deputies won’t see an increase in the numbers for several weeks.
But there has been a spike in purchase permits, Sifford said.
The department was already on track to top the 905 concealed carry permits issued last year.
As of June, 781 permits had been issued.
Sifford said the department has seen more concealed permits in the last few years, including a diversification of age and gender.
“We’ve been very steady in the issuance of concealed permits recently,” Sifford said.
“It was predominately male. Now it’s about 50-50.”
The change, he said, is attributed to a need for security.
“I think it’s certainly for protection,” he said. “I think that’s probably the main driving force for that.”
According to a WRAL public records database, Rowan County has 5,938 concealed weapon permits, which constitutes about 4.3 percent of the county, and ranks 14 among the 100 counties in the state.
Sifford said the total number of permits is actually about 7,300.
Sifford said he’s not opposed to those getting concealed weapon permits after high-profile shootings, because the course focuses primarily on safety.
“Certainly I’m a supporter of the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms,” he said, “and the people that take the concealed weapons class are people that are going to be responsible in their use.”
Contact Nathan Hardin at 704-797-4246.