THE GOSHEN NEWS
Ryan Stoy was on vacation when the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. happened Dec. 14.
“I haven’t really stopped working since then,” Stoy, a manager at ZX Gun in Goshen, said Tuesday. “I hope it settles down. It’s great in some ways but I’m tired of telling people we don’t have stock, and working long hours.”
Stoy estimated business has been six to seven times busier than usual.
“All the talk about gun control has increased business,” Stoy said. “It’s been pretty steady. We tend to be busy in winter and summer is slower.”
The manager said he believes the increase in the store’s gun sales has been due to President Barack Obama’s proposals, along with Vice President Joe Biden’s gun control committee and new tougher gun laws in New York. And on top of that — the mass shooting at Sandy Hook.
“Everything is selling, not just the high capacity (guns),” Stoy said.
He pointed to a couple partially empty shelves that are usually filled with 9 millimeter handguns, Glock 26 and M&P Shield guns.
“These are hard to get in and we don’t have a waiting list, it would just be too long,” Stoy said. “We attended a gun show recently and we smashed any record we’ve had at that show (in selling guns.)”
The store manager mentioned the increase in gun sales that occurred four years ago when Obama first took office when there was speculation on what the president would do.
A customer in the store, Shane Blotkamp, voiced his opinion about gun control legislation and the public’s reaction to it.
“I don’t think it will go through Congress. There’s a lot of fear over nothing,” Blotkamp said. “I’m an average gun owner and I’m not worried about having guns.”
He believes people buying guns right now are people who have never bought a gun.
“I think they are afraid they won’t be able to own one,” Blotkamp said. “I think it’s put the momentum behind gun sales.”
It’s the user
Across town at Rocket Guns on East Lincoln Avenue, Adam Wilburn, manager at Rocket Guns, said firearms are just mechanical items until a person picks it up.
“A gun cannot be an assault weapon until someone uses it to cause an action — an assault,” Wilburn said. “It’s not the items (guns) but the actions in the way they are used. Firearms are tools that can be used as recreational, as well.”
In his opinion, people are the issue.
“The guns don’t commit the crimes. I could load every gun in my store, leave and stand out in the middle of the driveway and feel safe about the situation,” Wilburn said. “They (guns) will sit just the way they are until someone comes in and uses them the wrong way.”
He believes that people who are law-abiding will remain so even when they have a gun. Those prone to breaking laws will continue to do so when they posses a gun, Wilburn contended. He added that states with strict gun controls also have higher crime rates.
Wilburn also believes firearm rights also protect society on a broader scale.
“If we don’t remember history and the way it was founded, including using guns as tools and protection,” Wilburn said, “then bad things will happen, like the holocaust, when they take away the ability to protect ourselves.”
The manager named some of his goals — promote firearm safety through education, promote local commerce through a facility with a safe environment where people can go and have fun, as well as promote local enforcement to help educate the public.
“More clients have come in lately, including little old ladies that are interested in firearms for recreation and for protection at home,” Wilburn said.
Sheriff and constitutions
Elkhart County Sheriff Brad Rogers said the U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 8, is clear what the powers Congress has.
“Gun control is not one of them. The issue of any gun laws should be the individual states. However, in that endeavor, the states are limited by their own constitutions,” Rogers said.
He gives the example from The Indiana Constitution — it has a clear message in Article I, Section 32: The people shall have a right to bear arms, for the defense of themselves and the State.
“As a sheriff who upholds his oath of office to support and defend the U.S. and Indiana Constitutions, I will not be a part of enforcing any federal law or presidential order that is contrary to those constitutions,” Rogers said. “As such, there are concerns from citizens of this county that there may be a gun confiscation, of which will not occur in this county while I am sheriff.”
Concealed carry permits
As for those seeking permits to carry concealed firearms, the increased demand for those permits is not something Rogers is worried about.
“The more people who are carrying firearms for legal purposes, the more polite our society will be,” Rogers said. “I do encourage firearm owners to have the ability to keep firearms secure from children and burglars, and to receive appropriate training from civilian firearms trainers.”
According to Capt. Jim Bradberry of the Sheriff’s Department, the number of concealed carry permits issued for Elkhart County increased from January 2012 with 133 issued to 221 for this month, so far. There were 236 carry permits issued in December, up 85 from 151 in November after the election and the tragedy at Newtown, Conn.
But in Goshen, there’s not much of a trend.
“We have not experienced any such ‘big upturn’ of residents seeking to apply for a firearms permits,” said Tina Kingsbury, spokeswoman for the Goshen Police Department.
The statistics Kingsbury provided are the number of firearm permits “issued” by the state of Indiana, not necessarily the number applied for through the Goshen police office.
She said the numbers reflect all the concealed carry permits issued, both the lifetime permit and four-year permit, for which the applicant will be required to re-apply to maintain the permit.
There have been eight permits this month so far and a total of 161 for 2012.
All permit applications begin online on the Indiana State Police website. A person can visit www.in.gov/isp and in the column on the left is a selection for firearms licensing. This section not only is where one begins their application process, it also contains information about fees, the application process, etc.
After completing the online portion of an application and submitting it to the state, the applicant is then required to go to their local law enforcement agency (Goshen city residents go to Goshen police department), where the application the resident completed online is printed and reviewed, a local criminal history is run, a set of fingerprints are taken, and the local fee is paid.
When this is all completed, the application, fingerprint card, and state fee is placed in an envelope provided by the local agency and mailed to the firearms division in Indianapolis.
“Every year, we have found there are residents who apply and never finish the application. Without asking each of them, we do not know why they decided to not complete the process,” Kingsbury said. “ We are not notified by any agency if an applicant who has visited our office does not follow through to completion.”