Gun sales have spiked throughout the country after a mass shooting left 12 dead and dozens more injured at a midnight movie showing in Aurora, Colo., last week. Local gun sales have not seen the same increase, but dealers say Richmond County residents are purchasing more ammunition, showing more interest in proper gun training, and many have said they are concerned that politicians may move too soon with restrictive gun legislation.
Robert Lee, owner of Rockingham Guns and Ammo, said his local gun sales had not increased following the shooting spree, but a large number of customers have expressed interest in taking concealed carry firearms classes.
“If you go and look at the records, when you do have more legal firearms and individuals that have been thoroughly trained, the crime rate drops,” said Lee.
Lee said he has received numerous phone calls from people wanting to take the concealed carry classes, and he’s seen a considerable increase in ammunition sales.
Many customers, he said, had expressed fear in new potential gun legislation.
“I’ve been hearing that there’s a fear that the government we have at the moment is going to get on the bandwagon and push this,” Lee said. “Local people understand that (the Colorado shooting) was an individual act, not the gun owning community.”
President Barack Obama announced Thursday that there were no plans to push such laws this year, but many Richmond County residents said they fear otherwise.
“There’s more fear of the firearms being taken away from us now than I have seen in 15 to 20 years,” Lee said.
Despite seeing little reaction in local gun sales, Lee said there’s been an increase in the number of firearms he’s sold to customers who live outside of Richmond County in the last week.
“My store is known statewide for tactical and defense firearms such as AK47s, AR15s and military style tactical shotguns,” he said. Since the shooting, Lee said he’d gotten customers from as far as Gastonia and Eden to coastal South Carolina.
Russell Kirk, owner of Ammo Shack in Rockingham, said his sales have been very good this week as well, and he’s also hearing customers express concern about the reaction of politicians.
“Nearly every customer has had something to say about (the shooting),” Kirk said. “Everybody is very much afraid that there’s going to be some legislation to limit ammo sales, gun sales, possession of large amounts of ammo or any amounts of ammunition.”
Kenneth Robinette, chairman of the Richmond County Board of Commissioners, said he did not support new restrictive gun legislation as a result of the shooting.
“I can see where people are concerned that there may be some legislation, but I don’t think that’s the answer,” Robinette said. “Bad people are going to get guns anyway. Other people are using them for protection or as a hobby or as a sportsman.”
Robinette, who is a gun owner, agreed that the right training is necessary for safe gun use.
“I’m a sportsman, I love to hunt,” Robinette said, “but it’s like anything else, unfortunately there’s a small few that try to ruin it for a lot of other people, so, for the right people with the right training, I support that. But I don’t support the ones that shouldn’t have guns … .”
He added that the rest of society should not be blamed for the crimes of those small few.
“We have to punish those people and let others enjoy their right to bear arms,” Robinette said. “There’s got to be a balance. I think sometimes our country has gotten off that balance … We need to use good common sense and enforce the laws that we have. There needs to be a balance in life and in government, and I think sometimes the balance gets swayed too far one way or the other.”
Staff Writer Mallory Brown can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 16, or by email at email@example.com.