CNS Firearms & Accessories owner Hedie Manske has seen an upswing in business at her Albany shop. (Mark Ylen/Democrat-Herald)

Concealed carry permits, gun sales increase around mid-valley in wake of shootings, talk of possible restrictions

The number of people seeking concealed handgun license permits has dramatically increased in Linn and Benton counties, and gun sales also have risen in the aftermath of the Connecticut school massacre and the Clackamas Town Center shooting.

“I think there’s a real fear for their personal protection,” said Mike McCarter, range master for the Albany Rifle and Pistol Club, which has seen a jump in the number of people registering for classes.

Worries of new federal firearms restrictions also have fueled the trends.

“People are truly concerned that their rights are going to go away,” said Wes Strobel, founder of the Philomath Gun Shop.

Linn County Undersheriff Bruce Riley said that in a typical month, his agency receives about 50 applications for concealed handgun licenses.

“In the last two weeks alone, we’ve received 160,” Riley said last week.

Benton County’s applications have approximately doubled, said Katy Kuhnert, records specialist.  

Barbara Kropf, office manager for Albany Guns, Coins & Jewelry, said people are purchasing more handguns and military style rifles, such as AR-15s.

“They’re getting hard to get,” she said, regarding the military-style rifles.

President Barack Obama on Wednesday pressed Congress to pass universal background checks and bans on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, among other measures.

AR-15s are the closest thing to military-issued weapons available to the public.

“Our boys, when they come back, they are used to shooting them,” Kropf said.

Hedie Manske, owner of CNS Firearms & Accessories, agreed that people are racing to beat any gun bans.

“People are thinking, ‘If I ever wanted to have anything, I want to purchase it now, because everything is unknown,’” she said.

Manske said with the higher demand, private gun sellers are asking astronomical prices for firearms.

“I’ve heard people saying prices have gone up anywhere between 50 to 100 percent on the private market,” said Bill Stanley, CNS manager.

Manske added that gun manufacturers tend to raise prices at the beginning of the year, anyway.

Strobel and Manske said they’d never seen this many new gun buyers.  

Oregon State Police does background checks on people purchasing guns from shops, and those have increased greatly in the past year, according to agency data.

In December 2011, for example, about 24,000 checks were done. In December 2012, the number was more than 44,000.

The year saw 259,000 total checks, 60,000 more than 2011, according to agency data.

“It’s been a fairly steady increase for several years in a row. We don’t necessarily have the answer for why that is,” said Patricia Whitfield, identification services section director for Oregon State Police.

Whitfield added that Oregon parallels a nationwide trend.

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Kyle Odegard covers public safety for the D-H. He can be contacted at 541-812-6077 or kyle.odegard@lee.net.