Debunking the Obama gun crisis: Should gun owners be worried?

By Colleen Miller

Copy Editor

Get your guns, before they are illegal. That was the vibe at firearm stores and shooting ranges in the weeks after Barack Obama became president-elect.

Nationwide, reports are trying to pinpoint the reason for the increase in firearms sales. It could be fear that president-elect Barack Obama and Congress will limit the Second

Amendment right to bear arms, uncertainty or just a coincidence.

In the week of Nov. 3-9, the FBI received over 374,000 requests for background checks for gun purchases — almost a 49 percent increase from the same period in 2007.

As of Nov. 21, applications for Concealed Pistol Licenses in Oakland County were also up 72 percent from last year. The increase may be due to citizens trying to get “grandfathered in” with their right to carry. In an April article in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, Obama was quoted saying, “I am not in favor of concealed weapons. I think that creates a potential atmosphere where more innocent people could [get shot during] altercations.”

But the increase may be due to changes in Michigan legislation that made the licenses easier to get in 2003 and are up for renewal this year and next year, according to Tracy Ward with the Oakland County Clerk/Register of the Deeds Office. To date, CPLs are still down 14 percent this year from 2004.

“Regardless, the amount of applications have increased over the years but I don’t believe with this being an election year that it impacted it very much,” Ward said.

“Since early November our gun and ammo sales are improved over last year,” said Thomas Hardecki, general manager of Bass Pro Shops in Auburn Hills.

“While the election and the perceived threat of increased gun control measures may have something to do with it, I think that the Saturday opener to our firearms deer season, our first Saturday opener in 11 years, that allowed increased numbers of hunters to get out in the field had a bigger effect,” Hardecki said.

Martin Tisdale at Double Action in Madison Heights said that nobody was prepared for such an increase in sales, which have tripled at Double Action.

But Tisdale said that he thinks Obama has so much else to worry about in the next four years that he’s not too worried about the newly elected president taking on the Second Amendment.

Bob Weber, 55, at Peters Indoor Range & Gun Shop in Roseville said that sales have been about the same all year because of the economy. He is still facing the same problems as Double Action, the supply just can’t keep up with the demand.

Weber hoisted an AR-15 off the wall, one of very few left for sale in the area. The semi-automatic rifle often used by police was part of the Clinton Gun Ban, in effect from 1994-2004, that many fear will be reinstated in some way while Obama is in office.

Congress did not renew the ban in 2004 because studies showed that the guns banned were rarely used in violent crimes.

“An assault weapon is a weapon someone is pointing at you to harm people,” Weber said.

Adding that the people he knows who have an AR-15 use them for competition shooting.

Michigan Representative Matt Gillard discussed local conservation issues at Oakland County Sportsmen’s Club in October.

“We grew up in a house where you think if you elect a Democrat, they’ll take your guns away, but he won’t take them away for recreational use,” Gillard said.

There is also concern among store owners and customers over a bill Obama supported to raise ammunition tax in Illinois. Weber cited a few other bills Obama supported in Illinois, listed on the National Rifle Association website, that he said would put Peters out of business. The site also lists, in 1999, Obama supported banning gun shops five miles from a school or park.

“A lot [of people who purchase firearms] are victims or someone they know is a victim,” Weber said.

Weber said that most people coming in to purchase firearms are victims or know someone who was a victim. Weber said an older man came into Peters recently to make sure his single-shot shotgun still worked after a 9 and 10-year-old shot up his neighbor’s house with a 9 mm. When confronted, the parents said that they “didn’t know what to do” about the children.

Weber said that a federal prosecutor came in to Peters to take the concealed carry course because of the “total collapse of government in Louisiana,” referring to the illegal confiscation of guns after Hurricane Katrina.

Guns are already expensive, but gun owners and sellers fear that legislation similar to what Obama has supported in the past would make it harder for citizens to afford their own protection. Weber said he can’t imagine what Detroit would be like if the only people that can afford guns are those buying them illegally.

“Law abiding gun owners will comply [with laws], the criminal doesn’t comply,” Weber said.