- The Washington Times - Friday, October 26, 2001

Gun-shop owners and state police in Maryland and Virginia have reported an increase in sales to suburban residents many who have never owned a gun in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Larry McGuire is like many others who have decided to arm themselves since then, although he says his decision doesn't hinge on the terrorist attacks.
Mr. McGuire, who hadn't fired a gun since 1957, decided it was time he dusted off his father's old .38-caliber revolver and practiced shooting it.
"I felt like we needed protections because of rising crime in the area," Mr. McGuire said.
Yesterday morning he took the revolver into Gilbert Small Arms in Springfield, bought a gun-cleaning kit and rented time on the indoor range. Mr. McGuire received some basic instructions from Tim Bacus and began firing at a paper target about 10 feet away.
After Mr. Bacus showed Mr. McGuire how to lead and use his revolver, Mr. McGuire said he was feeling more confident with the gun.
"I wish I could hit my golf ball that straight," the 66-year-old Mount Vernon resident said.
"I'm going to bring my wife in. I decided since we had this laying around we should know how to use it," he said.
Ernie Lyles, co-owner of Gilbert Small Arms, said he has not been able to keep a full stock of handguns, pepper spray and ammunition since Sept. 11.
"I've sold more shotguns in the last four weeks than I have in the last four years," he said.
In 1995, Virginia laws were changed allowing almost any law-abiding citizen to obtain a license to carry a concealed weapon. Maryland's laws are more restrictive and make it difficult to get a concealed-weapon permit. A seven-day waiting period is required to purchase a handgun in Maryland. During that time, the state police must conduct a criminal background check of the purchaser before he or she can take possession. The District forbids the possession of all guns.
Mr. Lyles said his gun sales are up 50 percent, especially shotguns. He said people decide to buy shotguns when they learn that buying a handgun in Fairfax County requires a 72-hour waiting period. His handgun safety class, which is required to qualify for a concealed-handgun permit, is full through February.
"They are not afraid of the terrorist attacking their homes. They are afraid the terrorists will attack the water supply or a power plant and that there will be a need to protect themselves from people who want their food or water."
A 50-year-old Franconia resident who was buying his first handgun said he needed protection. The man did not want to be identified because he didn't want his wife to know he had bought a .38-caliber revolver.
The man said if the water supply becomes tainted he might have to protect his property, since he has a well.
"They poison the water [and] the people in Condo Canyon [in the Landmark area] would be looking for someplace to get water," said the man.
Randy Reynolds, manager of Atlantic Guns in Silver Spring, said he also has seen a large number of new customers wanting to buy guns and ammunition.
"They aren't concerned about terrorists, but the disruption of the government. Perhaps the police won't be there for them," said Mr. Reynolds. "Business has increased because of it."
He said autumn is a busy time of year for gun sales because hunting season begins, but this year he has sold more guns for personal protection.
But Joe Moberly, manager of the Gun Center in Frederick, said he hasn't seen any increase in gun purchasers. "I think there has been more going on in Montgomery County, closer to Washington," he said.
"At this time of year, gun sales go up, but they haven't been beating my doors down."
Maryland state police records showed 408 applications to purchase handguns the week before Sept. 11, with applications more than doubling to 847 after that date. From Sept. 26 to Oct. 2, the number of applications dropped to 632.
"We did see a spike immediately following the events of Sept. 11. Those numbers are coming back down as quickly," said Maryland State Police Lt. Bud Frank.
"I think in lieu of what occurred it is not totally unexpected that individuals may feel a need to arm themselves," he said.
Virginia State Police records show 12,687 gun purchases between Sept. 11 and Sept. 30, a 27 percent increase from the 9,990 firearms sold in the state during the same period in 2000. During the week of Sept. 4, 2,851 firearms were sold in the state, while the week after the attack gun sales increased 32 percent to 3,763.
Although gun sales increased in September the number sold this year through Sept. 30 was fewer than during the same period in 2000. State police records show 120,171 firearms were sold between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30, 2000, while only 119,866 were sold during the same period this year.

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