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Some fret about stricter gun laws

| Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012, 12:34 a.m.
Valley News Dispatch
Jim Waltenbaugh, left, of Kiski Township, looks at a Ruger Mini-14 rifle held by salesman Blake Whaley at Schultz's Sportsmens Stop in Kiski Township on Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012. Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch
Valley News Dispatch
K-Mart workers Conner Kapelewski, left, and Josh Flinn, assist Kamri Brestensky, of Freeport, by loading a 51 inch tv into the back of her and her mother Ronna's van at the K-Mart in New Kensington on Friday, November 23, 2012. Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch

Debbie Schultz's customers are nervous.

The owner of Schultz's Sportsmen's Stop in Kiski Township said her customers are concerned that the re-election of President Obama will bring stricter gun laws.

“There's enormous concern about what's going to happen and any kind of potential bans,” Schultz said.

Schultz said she hasn't seen a gigantic increase in sales since Obama was re-elected, but she hears the constant fears of her customers.

“Listening to my customers, it's twofold,” she said. “Half of them are worried about a ban on semi-automatic weapons, large clips and that sort of thing.

“The other half is worried about the direction of the country and want to be able to protect themselves if something would happen.”

The fear of stricter gun laws seems to have taken hold throughout the country.

According to the FBI, 1.6 million background checks were done through its National Instant Criminal Background Check System in October. That's up from 1.3 million background checks in October of last year.

Requests for background checks are one of the easiest ways to predict future gun sales, since federal law mandates a background check be performed before a person can purchase any gun.

The spike in firearm sales is reflected in carrying permits in Westmoreland County, which are on pace to surpass 2011 numbers by well over 2,000, Sheriff Jonathan Held said.

According to the state police annual firearms report for 2011, 8,087 license-to-carry permits were issued in Westmoreland.

“We've definitely noticed an increase in firearm-carrying permits. But it's been the whole year, not just the last month,” Held said. “We anticipated issuing 10,000 this year, and we've already surpassed that.”

This isn't the first time the president has drawn concerns about gun rights. The FBI reported a 13 percent increase in background checks after Obama's election in 2008.

Hard-core gun owners are constantly concerned about issues that could spark gun control. Gun sales soared in July, sparked mainly by a gunman who shot 58 people, killing 12, during a showing of the latest Batman movie in Aurora, Colo. using a high powered rifle.

Obama said during his first presidential campaign that he supported renewal of the assault rifle ban but he has yet to introduce any new legislation, of any form, regarding guns.

Not everyone thinks the president is out to take the guns out of their owners hands, though.

The Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence, the country's largest pro-gun control group, gave Obama a grade of “F” in 2010 for his lack of gun control legislation.

R.A. Monti is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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