By Keith Gushard
Firearms sales and the number of license to carry a concealed firearm permits issued in Crawford County have jumped dramatically in the past few weeks in the fallout from gun violence around the country.
Congress is holding hearings on gun control and there are proposals afoot to ban assault weapons and ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds following the Dec. 14, 2012, shooting rampage that killed 20 children and six women at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and other recent incidents.
“We’ve seen about a 60 percent increase in sales,” said Brian Learn Jr., co-owner of Double LL Arms, a Meadville area gun shop. “People are concerned about their Second Amendment rights and protection.”
Leading the sales demand are requests for AR-15 semi-automatic rifles as well as high capacity magazines, he said.
“If I would have had two semi-trailer loads of AR-15s, I could have sold them all by now,” Learn said. “People want the high capacity and concealed carry type of weapons.”
He noted a 30-round ammunition magazine that normally sells for $15 to $18 is fetching $80 to $90 on the Internet.
“People don’t care — they want the product,” Learn said.
Sales at Bill’s Gun Shop of Conneaut Lake have jumped about 15 to 20 percent above what they were this time last year, said Janet Orr, who owns the shop with her husband, Bill.
“It’s for self-protection mostly,” Orr said of what customers are saying on why they buying. “Sales are finally starting to ebb.”
The run on sales across the nation has made it a challenge to keep inventory, according to dealers.
“Manufacturers are running flat out and can’t keep up with demand,” Learn said.
At a recent dealers meeting with Ruger Arms, a firearms maker, Learn said company officials said the firm has had a 20 to 25 percent increase each year for the last five years.
“And it’s not slowing down,” Learn said.
The recent jump in firearms sales coincides with an almost three times increase in the number of license to carry a concealed firearm permits issued by the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office. The number of those permits issued in January was 454 — that is 2.87 times more than the 158 issued in January 2012, according to Sheriff Nick Hoke.
At one point in January, the sheriff’s office had a backlog of about 120 license to carry a concealed firearm permits to process, Hoke said.
In 2011, the sheriff’s office approved a total of 1,553 license to carry applications, both new and renewals, but in 2012 that figure rose to 2,164, Hoke said. It’s an increase of 611 permits, or 39.34 percent.
“We’ve been so bogged down with processing permits I was even processing permits through PICS (Pennsylvania Instant Check System, a computer used to check for any criminal background on an applicant) on Saturdays,” Hoke said.
PICS has been so flooded by applications from around the state that it has been tough to get permits processed within the 45 days of application, Hoke said. It’s even caused the system to overload and shut down, Hoke said.
Hoke has asked Crawford County Commissioners to create another per diem deputy position through the end of February that, in part, will be used to help process license to carry a concealed firearm applications.
“We’ve seen spikes before (in applications) — after the Virginia Tech incident,” said Hoke, referring to the April 2007 shootings at the Virginia Tech campus that killed 32 and wounded 17 others. “There are talks now of changes in the gun laws and other legislation.”
Hoke said he’s even had people who have applied for a license to carry a concealed firearm permit, but don’t own a weapon as yet.
“They just want to have it,” Hoke said.
Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at email@example.com.
License to carry permits
License to carry a concealed firearm permits are good for five years, according to Sheriff Nick Hoke of Crawford County. Crawford County currently has 8,181 active permits.
The number of license to carry a concealed firearm applications, both new and renewals, approved by the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office was 1,553 in 2011 while 2,164 were approved in 2012. It’s an increase of 39.34 percent or 611 permits year-to-year.
The number of license to carry a concealed firearm permits approved by the sheriff’s office in January 2012 was 158 and in January of this year it was 454. It’s an increase of 296 permits or 287 percent.