- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 9, 2002

Retailers say they have seen little increase in sales for guns, self-defense courses or pepper spray after shootings monday and last week left six dead and two wounded in the Washington area.
Customer traffic was light at the Range, a shooting range and gun store in Fredericksburg, Va., said one employee, who asked not to be named. While he had received some inquiries about taking handgun lessons, gun sales and range use were down 5 percent. A woman was wounded in Fredericksburg on Friday.
"Everybody in Fredericksburg already has a gun because we were flooded with sales during the Y2K problem in 1999," the employee said.
It was the same situation for Potomac Arms Corp., an Alexandria gun store, said Steve Richards, co-owner. Sales for handguns and pepper spray rose 1 percent, which Mr. Richards said was typical for the season.
"We saw sales double immediately following September 11," Mr. Richards said. "But our sales evened out, and we've been business as usual so far."
At D.C. Self Defense Impact, a self-defense program company in Silver Spring, Sarah Wolf said there have been few inquiries resulting from the recent shootings.
"Generally, interest to be armed with self-defense skills doesn't come from one single event like this," said Ms. Wolf, registrar for the program that gives classes throughout the District and Northern Virginia. "A lot of people figure knowing self-defense is not going to do a lot of good when you're up against a sniper who's 50 yards away."
Detective Sgt. A.D. Galloway, spokesman for the Maryland State Police, said there were no spikes in applications for concealed weapons permits, so far at 1,159 for 2002.
Lt. Bud Frank, also with the Maryland State Police, said gun sales have increased "minimally," adding that it could take several weeks before final results are available.
The lack of public stockpiling of self-defense items correlates with the unusual nature of the shootings, said Jeffrey Akman, chairman of the department of psychiatry for George Washington University. "In a case like this, where the shooter is using stealth and surprise to his advantage, people aren't going to see firearms as the answer," he said.
"People are looking at the odds here, and they are fairly slim when you compare eight victims to 2.5 million people in the Washington area," Mr. Akman said. "It's sad, but people have to live their lives, and knowing that risk is smaller than it's blown out to be can help them do that."


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