Skip to comments.Area gun sales rose along with Sept. 11 fears
Posted on 03/21/2002 8:04:39 AM PST by TheErnFormerlyKnownAsBig
Area gun sales rose along with Sept. 11 fears
Thursday, March 21, 2002
By LEWIS KAMB
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER REPORTER
Seattle residents aren't rushing to take up arms as they did following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, though Washingtonians are still packing on the heat.
In the aftermath of last year's terrorist attacks, Puget Sound-area residents armed themselves at a feverish rate, as local police officials and gun shop owners blamed fear and apprehension for soaring concealed weapon permit applications and a surge in gun sales.
The local phenomenon mirrored the national trend as Americans looked for personal protection in unsettling times.
Six months later, demand for concealed weapon permits remains high statewide, with nearly 1,000 more requested per month since the Sept. 11 attacks than in the six months beforehand. Handgun sales statewide also remain strong, with an average of 840 more pistols sales reported each month since the attacks.
But the Seattle area's reaction to the terrorist threat was more fleeting.
Local gun-store owners, who saw business increase in spades following the terrorist strikes, say sales are back to normal. And the number of new concealed weapon permit applications, which in some cases more than doubled at local police agencies in the weeks after Sept. 11, have returned to typical levels.
"The panic buying is way, way over," said Alan Goldman, owner of the Central Gun Exchange in downtown Seattle, whose business experienced a 30 percent to 40 percent spike in gun sales in the weeks after the terrorist attacks.
But by the time November was spent, gun sales fell way off. Business went up slightly in January, but it was nowhere near the post-attack rush, Goldman said.
New applications for concealed weapon permits dropped even more.
From Sept. 11 through October, first-time applicants for concealed weapon permits were lining up in record numbers at the Seattle Police Department. The department took in 261 new applications in September and October 2001, compared with 150 for the same months a year earlier. But the lines quickly thinned, with just 106 new applicants in November and December combined.
The King County Sheriff's Office also saw a dramatic increase in new applications. While the number of new applicants there remains higher than in the months before the attacks, interest has cooled. Tacoma and Pierce County report similar trends.
In Bellevue, monthly concealed pistol application counts hit a record 103 in October, but then fell back to numbers comparable to past years for November and December. Bellevue police spokeswoman Marcia Harnden noted that applications for the first two months of this year "are still pretty high, but they are dropping, and they're nowhere near the 100 or so we got in October.
"It's natural," Harnden added. "I don't know what any one person with a concealed pistol permit is going to do to stop terrorism, but people are going to do what they're going to do to feel safe."
Teresa Norberg, a supervisor of Seattle police's concealed weapon application program, said the process was tightened after Sept. 11, which may factor into the recent drop. About two months ago, the department stopped taking applications from out-of-state residents, Norberg said.
Some of those applicants are part-time Washington residents, while others are visiting on business or vacation and want to carry a pistol here. Some are security officers whose jobs cross state lines, she said.
Before Sept. 11 the department accepted mail-in applications that included fingerprints taken by other agencies, but SPD now accepts only the prints it takes, Norberg said.
"The main thing was people were looking for more security (after Sept. 11)," Norberg said. "But now I think things have calmed down a little bit."
Gun sales followed a similar pattern at Wade's Eastside Gun Shop, said owner Wade Gaughran.
Immediately after Sept. 11, sales doubled at the Bellevue gun shop and firing range, with first-time gun owners responsible for much of that business, Gaughran said.
But by December, Gaughran said, those "spectacular" sales figures were "pretty much back to normal."
In fact, sales from September through May, when Gaughran typically does his best business, are now slightly below normal, he said. Gaughran said he suspects the decline stems from the post-Sept. 11 run on guns because consumers who typically buy new guns early in the year may have instead bought them immediately after the attacks.
"Whenever there's a big rush, there's always a big backlash," Gaughran said.
Statewide statistics are more difficult to interpret. No one knows how many firearms there are in Washington state because not all sales are recorded. The state does know that at least 1.6 million pistols were sold as of October, however.
The state keeps better tabs on the 239,192 people who now have concealed weapon permits. Their ranks swelled by 28,649 since Oct. 1 -- or an average of about 1,000 more per month since the attacks than the state was issuing beforehand.
In fact, the number of permits issued is still rising. In February -- the Department of Licensing's most recent complete tally -- the state issued 6,675 permits, the most in any month during the prior year.
Registered handgun sales, meanwhile, have fallen month to month in five of the six months since a 12-month peak of 6,733 in October.
Police and local gun dealers say they've seen similar -- if shorter -- spikes in firearm interest after high-profile crimes and during past times of unrest -- such as Seattle's WTO disturbances in 1999 and the days preceding the Y2K observation of the riots.
Still, it isn't surprising to some that local gun trends have returned to normal.
"The only people who are paranoid any more is the government," gun store owner Goldman said.
P-I reporter Lewis Kamb can be reached at 206-615-1246 or firstname.lastname@example.org
This story, on its face, seems to be (especially by Seattle newspaper standards) is not very biased and indeed is pretty even handed.
But by strict Journalistic standards of old it is still pretty lame.
They had to go to and insert the comment from the Bellevue PD spokeswoman about "I don't know what one armed citizen.. blah blah blah". That is definitely not within the who what where when and why categories.
"Teresa Norberg, a supervisor of Seattle police's concealed weapon application program, said the process was tightened after Sept. 11, which may factor into the recent drop. About two months ago, the department stopped taking applications from out-of-state residents, Norberg said.
Some of those applicants are part-time Washington residents, while others are visiting on business or vacation and want to carry a pistol here. ..."
From the Washington statutes via the NRA website.
Application for a license to carry a pistol concealed on the person for protection, business, sport or travel may be made to a police chief or sheriff where you reside, or anywhere in the state for a non-resident. The official shall issue the license within 30 days of application. The license shall be issued within 60 days if the applicant lacks a Washington identification card or driver's license or has not been a resident of Washington for the previous consecutive 90 days. The issuing authority shall not refuse to accept completed applications for concealed pistol licenses during regular business hours. The right to have the license "shall not be denied" unless the applicant:
1.is ineligible to own a pistol (See POSSESSION section).
2.is under 21 years of age.
3.is free on bond or personal recognizance pending trial, appeal, or sentencing for a felony.
4.has an outstanding arrest warrant for a felony or misdemeanor.
5.is subject to a restraining order or domestic violence action requiring the surrender of a deadly weapon.
I'm going to have to call the Second Ammendment Foundation and ask about this.
I just got off the phone with Joe Waldron of the Second Ammendment Foundation and he stated that the Seattle P.D. has apparently stopped taking applications for out of state/non-residents via the mail. You must get your fingerprints done by a local authority.
State law doesn't say one way or the other so the SPD would not be breaking the law but isn't following the law either.
There is no "controlling legal authority" for this issue and if there were one there would be no wiggle room for the SPD because of the state's preemption law.