Pennsylvania Sees Spike in First-Time Handgun Buyers

Pennsylvania Sees Spike in First-Time Handgun Buyers
photo from triblive.comweb photo

The state of Pennsylvania, a very important battleground in the upcoming presidential election, is also a big state for gun sales.

This story from triblive.com says that handgun sales in western Pennsylvania are up, like they are across the country, but that a large number of them are being sold to first-time gun buyers.

“A lot of people have never owned one, but they feel they need to get one,” said Ed Negley of the Shooters Bench gun shop in the story. He added that the store in West Deer sells about 1,800 handguns a year.

The story says the number of people seeking a concealed carry permit in the region is also rising. Among all those increases: a large percentage of women, who are either buying a gun for the first time, getting their concealed carry permit, or a combination of both.

The story quotes Pam Richards of Gilpin, who bought her first gun in 2015. She recently bought a handgun with a red-dot sight. For her, the outcome of the presidential election matters far less than crime or potentially becoming a victim.

"I'm in sales and I travel. I need something for self-protection. This is strictly for protection," Richards said in the story.

Debbie Schultz, owner of Schultz’s Sportsmen’s Stop where Richards bought her handgun, said she’s seen above-average handgun sales, and that the number of women buying guns has doubled so far this year.

"They are buying regardless of who wins," she told the Tribune. "They are worried about crime."

Butler County Sheriff Michael T. Slupe says increases in carry permit applications are directly related to high-profile tragedies.

“Anytime there’s a tragedy, license applications increase. It doesn’t matter where it happens, our people feel it impacts them,” he said.

“So far this year, almost as many licenses have been issued because of people reacting to news about terrorism and cases involving shootings by police that have fueled a national debate about use of deadly force by law enforcement officers, Slupe said.”

Westmoreland County sheriff Jon Held told the Tribune what he's hearing from people who are applying for carry permits: “Applicants are talking about two things: terrorism and the election."