News

Adams County gun sales increase in recent weeks

Written by Davin Jurgensen/Hanover Evening Sun | Dec 22, 2015 8:18 AM
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Tom Young, of Gettysburg, tests the bolt action of a .270 hunting rifle while shopping for Christmas gifts on Wednesday morning Dec. 16, 2015 at Redding's Hardware in Gettysburg. (Photo: Shane Dunlap, The Evening Sun)

(Undated) -- Adams County gun sales and concealed carry permit applications have increased in the weeks following several widely publicized shootings, according to area store owners and a law enforcement official.

Debates about gun control and personal protection took over national headlines this month after shootings in Colorado and California. On Nov. 27, three people died following an attack at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Less than a week later, 14 people died and 22 sustained injuries when a couple open fired at an event in San Bernardino, California.

Some believe these shootings are the reason more people in Adams County have taken steps to own guns over the past few weeks.

"(People) generally don't express concerns but are a little frantic with everything going on," said Chuck Doll, owner of Powder Horn Sport Shop in McSherrystown. "There's a sense of insecurity."

Powder Horn saw about a 70 percent increase in handgun sales in the weeks following the San Bernardino shooting, Doll said, with more sold in one week than in September and October put together.

About 40 percent of those sales went to women, Doll said. Normally, women only account for about 10 percent of the store's sales.

"People who don't normally have guns are coming in to buy," Doll said, adding that many of his new customers are also interested in courses that teach them how to safely handle weapons.

Other area stores reported similar increases.

Pistol sales at Redding's Hardware in Gettysburg, for example, increased by about 40 percent in recent weeks, owner Jeremy Davis said. Davis has also noticed a slight rise in the popularity of AR-15s, a type of rifle.

County officials have noticed the elevated interest in guns following the California and Colorado attacks.

The number of people applying for concealed carry permits has doubled in recent weeks, Adams County Sheriff James Muller said. These permits allow Pennsylvania residents over the age of 21 to conceal weapons on their bodies or in their vehicles, assuming they pass certain background checks.

Muller said every time a big shooting occurs, there's a spike in sales for concealed carry permits.

"People get worried, and right away of course they start talking about confiscating weapons, and people get nervous," he said.

Muller, Davis and Doll are well aware of the gun control debates that have followed in the wake of the recent shootings. While many across the country have cited the attacks as evidence that firearms should be more difficult to obtain, they believe restrictions aren't necessarily the answer.

California has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, Muller said. They require people to show proof of residency in the state, pass a safe handling demonstration and receive a 75 percent or higher on a firearms laws and safety test, according to the California Firearms Laws Summary by the California Department of Justice.

But these laws didn't prevent the San Bernardino shooting.

"The average criminal doesn't get a gun legally anyway," Muller said. "They're either going to buy it off the street or through somebody. The only people tighter gun laws are hurting are law-abiding citizens who want to protect themselves."

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