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Gun sales boom on fear of Obama bans

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Speculation that President Obama might pull the trigger on tighter regulations for gun ownership continues to be a shot in the arm for local dealers.

"Gun owners see a definite swing toward stricter gun laws, if not confiscation of firearms altogether," said Buddy Savage, owner of Braverman Arms on Penn Avenue in Wilkinsburg. "His voting record is 100 percent anti-gun. That's where all of this is coming from. People are buying now while they can."

Savage, 73, estimated his guns sales have increased between 30 percent and 40 percent in the past six months over concern that Obama and Congress will revive a ban on military-style weapons and impose other restrictions on gun owners.

Obama backed a ban on semiautomatic weapons while in the Illinois Legislature. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has said the Obama administration supports reinstating a ban on military-style weapons that expired in 2004.

The FBI performed 1.21 million background checks nationwide for firearm purchases in February, up from about 200,000 in February 2008, according to the FBI. There was a 27 percent increase in checks in the last three months of 2008 compared to the same period in 2007, FBI statistics show.

Locally, new and renewed firearm licenses in Allegheny County were up about 10 percent — from 2,241 to 2,450 — through the first two months of 2009 compared to the same time last year, said Allegheny County Sheriff William P. Mullen.

This weekend, more than 5,000 people are expected to attend the second of five gun shows at Westmoreland Mall this year, said Phil Dacey, president of the Pennsylvania Gun Collectors Association, which runs the shows.

"They've been really busy, really big since last fall, when people had a sense that Obama would win," Dacey said.

Vendors at a gun show in Harrisburg last weekend also reported that business was booming.

At Anthony Arms on Lebanon Church Road in West Mifflin, store clerk Leo Yacomelli said gun sales are up 25 percent.

For some customers, it's not whether Obama will enforce restrictions, it's when, Yacomelli said.

"They're getting in before it happens," he said, adding that many customers are first-time gun owners. "There are people coming in buying guns who don't even like guns. They're doing it just because it's their right."

Ladd Everitt, spokesman for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, a lobbyist group, said peaks in gun purchases are common. His group is most concerned about weapons stockpiling. Data shows that those people buying guns already are firearm owners, he said.

"I don't think it's soccer moms," he said, "who are going to the store and buying AK-47s and the like."

Additional Information:

Limits supported

The majority of Pennsylvanians polled by Franklin & Marshall College said they support limiting the number of handguns residents can buy to no more than one per month unless the person is a police officer or licensed gun dealer or collector, according to the poll released today.

• 52 percent strongly favor

• 14 percent somewhat favor

• 6 percent somewhat oppose

• 25 percent strongly oppose

• 3 percent don't know

Source: Franklin & Marshall College




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