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Gun purchases continue record climb in Ohio


Site Owner
October 7, 2011
By Mark Gokavi, Staff WriterUpdated 11:35 AM Tuesday, January 3, 2012

This holiday season has seen a record-setting amount of gun shopping, according to statistics released by the Federal Bureau of Investigations.

With the last few days of December not yet added, the FBI reported that the number of national background checks for the month topped the previous one-month record — set in November — of 1,534,414.

For the first 11 months of 2011, the FBI did 14.6 million checks — the highest on record and well above the 8.5 million in 2003.

FBI background checks also are up in Ohio. In the first 11 months of 2011, the FBI conducted 406,593 background checks for firearm purchases at Ohio gun sellers, up 17.2 percent from the same period in 2010 and up 33.5 percent from 2008, according to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

Background checks are a good measure of gun sales because federally licensed gun-sellers are required to perform them during a sale. Not all checks lead to purchases, but most do.

Locally, some firearms dealers say sales are up 20 to 40 percent over last year. They attribute the uptick to fears about home invasions, other crime and political concerns.

Jeff Miller, who owns The Miami Armory on Kingsridge Drive near the Dayton Mall, said the two camps of buyers are people nervous about neighborhood crime and those afraid of the government tightening gun laws. He said the latter group is buying multiple guns.

“The first-time gun buyers are the ones worried about someone breaking into their home,†Miller said. “People (who already own guns) are kind of hoarding a little.†Jim Irvine, chairman of the Buckeye Firearms Association, said the increase is tied to several reasons, including relaxed conceal-and-carry laws in Ohio, more women learning about guns and the pro-gun message resonating.

“Owning a gun for self-defense is like owning a fire extinguisher or smoke detectors for safety,†Irvine said. “All of the fears about all of the nonsense about guns, they’re really myths that are falling by the wayside.
“Lots of people buy (guns as) Christmas gifts or put it on their Christmas list, like, ‘Hey, you know I’ve been looking at this gun. I like it.’ â€

Toby Hoover, executive director of the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence, said the economic and political climate are factors in rising gun purchases.

“You add all of those things together and then if you have an outside source that throws in some fear, like the gun lobby is good at, then people are inclined to think that they will get no help from anyone so they need to take care of themselves,†she said. “It’s a false sense of security, but they might go purchase a gun.

“I think our families have a right to feel safe and they have a right to be free of gun violence. And when you add more guns to the picture, that’s not the result you have.â€

The Violence Policy Center website claims that 11 law enforcement officers — including one from Ohio — have been killed by concealed-carry holders since May 2007. The site also lists 374 private citizens who have been killed via murder, suicide, murder/suicide or accidents, including 15 in Ohio. Hoover said she’s especially concerned that NICS checks are up, since they don’t account for people who are selling to friends or co-workers without background checks.

“I’m bothered by, especially at the holiday time, of how many people think that these things ought to be holiday gifts, Christmas gifts for their families and their children,†Hoover said. “We’re seeing more of that, which means it’s becoming sort of an accepted thing. Firearms and weapons don’t seem to go with holidays and peacefulness to me. I think we have a problem.â€

County-by-county numbers of new conceal-and-carry permits kept track of by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office are not available for all area counties for the last quarter of 2011.

Montgomery County’s nearly full-year numbers show an increase to about 1850 from the 1,560 concealed-carry licenses issued in 2010. The trend toward an increase appears to hold true for Butler County (1,166 permits in 2010), Miami County (443 in 2010) and Warren County (1,018 in 2010), which had reached 989 through nine months in 2011.

Greene County Sheriff Gene Fischer provided statistics showing that the number of new licenses issued there are slightly higher in 2011 than the 849 issued in 2010. “Is it bothersome that more people have permits?†Fischer said. “No.â€

Andrew Palmer, 29, who owns PSG Quality Firearms on Grange Hall Road in Beavercreek, said he’s worked in gun shows since he was 13 and that people are more afraid now.

“A lot of people have become a little bit more scared lately,†Palmer said. “There’s been a lot of break-ins. That 83-year-old man was robbed (Nov. 17) in Beavercreek.

“We’ve had big sales (numbers), starting just before black Friday, the second week in November, and we’re still busy today.â€

Palmer said his clientele includes a lot of military personnel and “average, middle class†people. He said 80 percent of his business is for concealed-carry handguns and that competitive shooters and collectors make up the other 20 percent.

“People want to protect themselves with what’s going on in the world and news today and we see the economy,†he said. “Crime is on the increase and a lot of people have started arming themselves.â€
Staff writer Cornelius Frolik contributed to this report.

The National Instant Criminal Background Check System shows a record number of checks in Ohio in 2011.
2005: 313,159
2006: 325,132
2007: 326,114
2008: 350,014
2009: 395,580
2010: 393,250
2011: 406,593*
*Does not include December, which tends to have the biggest number of checks. 
Source: FBI

Gun purchases continue record climb in Ohio