BURLINGTON, Wash. – It is the perfect storm for gun sales, say Skagit area gun dealers: An election year with gun control debates, hunting season and a tragic mass shooting at the Cascade Mall.
It's not only pushing sales but concealed carry permits as well.
“They’re on the fence and then when something like that happens, it pushes them over the edge,” said Justin Hanson about the new concealed carry customers coming into his shop in Bow. He owns All American Armory and said the spike is nothing new.
“Concealed carry pistols have been our biggest seller when things happen like that because people need something that they can feel safe in public and go out and protect themselves,” said Hanson.
Since the Cascade Mall shooting in Burlington, in which five people were shot to death by a lone gunman, concealed carry permits are up. Our partners at The Seattle Times report a spike in all surrounding cities in Skagit County.
Burlington had 13 applications since the shooting, compared to one application in the three weeks before. In Sedro-Woolley, police report a record spike in the day following the shooting, with 12 applications. In Anacortes, police told The Seattle Times they had 16 applications following the shooting, eight times their average.
“Way too many people hear something like this and they go out and get their concealed carry permit and they go out and they shoot it once and that is not a good scenario,” said Sheriff John Urquhart of King County. “That is something they shouldn’t be doing.”
Concealed carry numbers are up, but so is education. Jessica Merlino owns Guns and Lace, a company that trains women to concealed carry safely. She said her classes are sold out in October, all three. Normally, she would do one class a month teaching 10 women.
Merlino said it’s a good sign and a change to what some may have seen in years prior. “The consumer is looking to educate themselves first rather than just have a kneejerk reaction and buy a firearm,” she said.
“I think that is the biggest thing after the events of last Friday is the awareness of what is possible,” said Brent Straight, Skagit Shooting Range owner. His range and shop are located in Burlington; he said their sales have been strong, selling double what they normally would for the month.
“It’s all come to a head,” he said.
Straight said he is educating just as much as he is selling. When it comes to concealed carry, he said he wants people to be responsible, to know what the gun is for and be ready to pull the trigger if needed.
“If you don’t have that in your mind, you don’t need a gun,” he said. “It doesn’t make you faster, smarter, or stronger than the other guy. You have a huge responsibility and you need to understand that.”