Elections good for gun sales

Some retailers reporting higher sales similar to those during 2008

Treven Weaver helps a customer browsing the gun selection Thursday at Black Sheep Sporting Goods in Coeur d'Alene.

Some Kootenai County gun retailers and law enforcement are reporting a rise in gun ownership, though they say the trend started months before last week's shooting in Colorado.

"It's an election year," explained Eric Johnson, trainer with Downtown Guns and Ammo.

As rumors of policy change are thick in the air again with the approaching presidential election, fear of fiercer gun control is also resurfacing.

"It was crazy the last time," Johnson recalled of folks harvesting firearms during Barack Obama's 2008 campaign. "Anytime a Democrat gets elected, people start to panic a bit. This year, there's even more on the re-election. The majority of people start to panic, then."

Although retailers' shelves haven't been emptied like they were four years ago, gun sales at Johnson's downtown Coeur d'Alene store have risen about 30 percent this year, he estimated.

No particular style or brand seems more popular than others, he added.

"They're buying just about everything," he said. "Election years, they're always just a little concerned."

Joe Ellithorpe, owner of Northwest Pony Express, said his store has experienced a jump in antique and modern gun sales this year, though he couldn't estimate how much.

"It's a certain amount, but we don't match what's going on at a national scale," he said.

Ellithorpe believes the gun sales are driven by Obama's "attitude toward constitutional guarantees," he said, which some are still convinced could lead to more restriction on the Second Amendment.

"I would certainly be concerned," Ellithorpe said. "It would start with more gun control."

A White House spokesman, as well as the Senate majority leader, announced on Thursday that new gun legislation would not be on the political agenda this year, according to the Associated Press.

Ellithorpe emphasized that guns are near and dear to North Idaho residents for many obvious reasons, he said, like hunting and personal protection.

"This particular community has active concealed carry," he said.

The Kootenai County Sheriff's Department can verify that. The department issued 1,173 permits for concealed carry permits for all of last year, said Lt. Andy Boyle.

By mid July this year, the number was already up to 1,252.

"Maybe it's the election coming into it," he said, adding that the spike could also be related to a change in permit law this year.

The trend in rising gun interest isn't seen everywhere. Brian Knoll with Black Sheep Sporting Goods said firearm sales have been normal this year.

"We haven't noticed that as a trend," he said of increased firearm sales.

Chuck Houck, a vocal gun owner and advocate in Black Sheep on Thursday, said he "doesn't believe" in stockpiling guns and ammo and has no intention of doing so now.

Sure, shooting is an inherent part of his life, the Coeur d'Alene man said, adding that he would shoot flies if he was able.

"It's the challenge of doing it," Houck said, noting that he currently prefers shooting prairie dogs because of the difficulty in nailing a tiny target. "You've got to learn how to breathe out. You've got to learn to count your heartbeat, shooting something only that big at 300 feet."

But he doesn't feel compelled to prepare for the eradication of firearms, the 70-year-old said.

After all, he said, look at what happened four years ago, following the nationwide fear that Obama would strip Americans' gun rights.

"Nothing changed," Houck said. "Not a thing."

Chuck Houck discusses the trends he witnessed in sales of guns and ammunition in the area.

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