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Hardin County residents are locked and loaded.
Sales throughout the county show a dramatic increase in the number of firearms sold by sporting goods stores, pawn shops and gun stores.
Ron Timmer, manager of Kwick-Kash Pawn Shop on North Dixie Boulevard in Radcliff, said he has seen the national trend of a spike in firearms and ammunition sales reach Hardin County.
“You wouldn’t believe it, that’s how much it’s increased,” he said.
There was an increase in sales at Timmer’s store and other firearm providers after the re-election of President Barack Obama, but most of the sales came after the Dec. 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., that left 26 dead, including 20 children.
Talk of a possible ban on assault weapons during the presidential debate and especially after the Newtown shootings has some buyers worried such weapons and ammunition won’t be available for sale much longer, Timmer said.
“They’re afraid they are going to go away,” he said. “They’re afraid we’re going to lose our Second Amendment rights.”
Timmer is licensed to sell all firearms except those that are fully automatic. He has sold more of all types of guns, including those not considered assault weapons.
He thinks only a fully automatic firearm should be considered an assault weapon, leaving full access to other types that people might use to defend themselves.
The former soldier of 20 years considers himself a last line of defense for keeping guns out of the hands of people who might use them to hurt others.
He said the people to whom he sells firearms seem likely to be careful with them, and he has refused to sell guns to would-be buyers he did not think should own them.
“You can normally pick them out,” he said.
J.J. Akins, president of Sporter Express on Sycamore Street in Elizabethtown, said he has never been in a position where he has denied someone a firearm, but would do so if he thought that buyer might hurt someone.
He has seen such an increase in sales of firearms, magazines, ammunition, reloading supplies and other related items the supply of products is beginning to disappear.
Either supplies will continue to dwindle and prices will shoot up, or demand will level off and the cost will stay the same, Akins said.
Residents are worried about what might be included in legislation that could restrict the sale of some firearms and ammunition. A bill such as one recently proposed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D.-Calif., to ban the manufacture and sale of at least 120 guns would be very restrictive, he said.
“It’s tragic events that have brought this to the forefront, but the answer is not to take away our freedoms,” he said.
Akins is concerned about what a ban might mean for his business and for the country.
He thinks residents should read about proposed laws related to firearms and contact their representatives to tell them their opinions on the issue.
Donna Kirchhofer, manager at E-Town Pawn & Gun on North Dixie Avenue in Elizabethtown, said the store where she works is smaller than some other local places that offer firearms, and her supply of assault weapons has always been limited.
Still, she has seen a slight increase in sales of all types of firearms. She also has fielded many calls from area residents interested in buying assault weapons because they fear they might not be able to later.
“Any time Americans are afraid of losing their right to hold a weapon, you will see an increase,” she said.
Such an increase is not uncommon near Christmas, but a major reason seems to be talk of a ban on assault weapons, Kirchhofer said.
Being in the pawn business for 20 years has taught her that it often gets more difficult to find guns and ammunition after there is talk from lawmakers about banning some types or aspects of firearms because demand spikes.
“I personally never thought I would see extreme gun control in my lifetime, but now I think I will when I’m 50,” she said.
Bob Moore, chairman of the Hardin County Democratic Executive Committee, thinks it’s unlikely there will be any attempt by the federal government to take any types of firearms away from current owners because there are so many throughout the nation.
“You can’t close the barn door after all the animals have gotten out and expect to have any success with that,” he said.
Moore also said he doesn’t think Obama or Congress could ever fully block access to weapons.
The gun owner and Second Amendment proponent said it’s too early to tell what any assault weapon ban might look like, but he doesn’t know if consumers need assault weapons and ammunition clips.
He said the firearm sales spike might be premature, considering that a task force chaired by Vice President Joe Biden hasn’t made any recommendations for combating gun violence.
The panel was tasked Dec. 19 by the president to return a recommendation within several weeks.
Amber Coulter can be reached at (270) 505-1746 or acoulter@thenews enterprise.com.